Despite budget woes, Chicago police will equip patrol officers with body cameras in every police district a year earlier than initially planned, reports the city’s Tribune. Just months after police first revealed plans to expand a 2015 body camera pilot program into all 22 police districts by the end of 2018, officials announced on Wednesday an accelerated plan to outfit thousands of patrol officers with the new AXON II cameras and training by late 2017. “The citywide use of body worn cameras within the Chicago Police Department will provide a greater sense of self-awareness to both officers and the individuals that they interact with,” police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.
About 2,000 cameras are now in use in seven police districts, but officials didn’t have a precise timetable for when the cameras would hit the streets in the remaining 15 districts. Use of the cameras ramped up after the public outcry over the release of 2014 squad car video showing Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times as the teenager, who was holding a knife, was walking away. “Body cameras, while not a panacea, are a win-win for officers and the public,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “They provide a firsthand look at the dangerous situations officers encounter on a daily basis, and improve transparency while building trust.”