In the 1960s, Chicago cops griped about having to wear radios on their belts. In the last decade, some fretted about having to communicate through laptop computers in their cars. Now, says the Chicago Sun-Times, some officers have been resisting the latest police technology: video cameras installed in 340 vehicles. “For an organization of this size, this is a fundamental change, and it will take a while to be accepted,” said Jonathan Lewin, commander of the Information Technology Section.
Privately, some cops said they were ignoring the rule to turn on camera systems because they’re worried their words and actions will come back to haunt them. They explained they sometimes must use harsh language to establish control over people they stop. Police Superintendent Jody Weis said the video systems are an essential part of the department’s push to make officers accountable. “I think it’s absolutely critical to have them turned on,” Weis said. “Oftentimes, we have allegations where it was an individual’s word vs. the officer’s. In most of the instances, allegations against the officers go away when video evidence is available. It’s unacceptable not to have them turned on.” Weis reminded supervisors to make sure officers are patrolling with their cameras on. An officer must enter an ID into the system to activate the cameras. The department has asked manufacturer Coban Technologies Inc. to make some fixes.