Chicago police will have body cameras a year ahead of schedule, bringing the chest-mounted devices to all 22 police districts by the end of 2017, City Hall and the Police Department announced Wednesday.
"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 in a news release, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The effort is an expansion of a pilot program that has placed about 2,000 cameras in use in seven police districts in the city, according to the Tribune, noting that use of the devices ramped up after a squad car video in 2014 showed Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting teen Laquan McDonald 16 times.
The cameras were estimated to cost about $8 million, according to the Tribune. They can record up to 72 hours of video footage on a single charge, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Research in Law and Justice is studying the program and will help develop training, the Sun-Times said.
The body camera program is part of an overhaul of the police department amid a U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigation sparked by police misconduct incidents, Reuters reported.
"Body cameras, while not a panacea, are a win-win for officers and the public," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement, according to Reuters. "They provide a firsthand look at the dangerous situations officers encounter on a daily basis, and improve transparency while building trust."
Some have expressed concerns about the cameras, including Police Commander Marc Buslik, who said he is worried about the privacy of crime victims and bystanders.
Dean Angelo Sr., president of the police union, told Reuters he'd rather see a broader range of footage released to the public.
"We don't see the encounters that are challenging, disrespectful and borderline illegal, threatening someone in uniform just because they are in uniform," he said.
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