Chicago’s top cop wore a body camera on patrol Friday night for the first time. Superintendent Eddie Johnson gave a firsthand account of what it’s like to walk the streets as a police officer. It’s all part of an effort to make policing more transparent.
“I think it has a huge impact, from day one I’ve said that we have to repair the trust between the community and the police department, so the more comfortable we make the citizens with the police department, the more apt they are to give us information when a crime is involved,” said Johnson.
First Deputy Superintendent John Escalante also wore a body camera on Friday night. Their patrol started on the West Side, at Madison and Cicero.
Right now, only one shift in one CPD district uses body cameras. Supt. Johnson says complaints against police in that district have dropped significantly.
There are rules for the cameras. The cameras are issued to individual officers and must be worn by that officer. The cameras must also be turned on when the officers have any interaction with the public.
The video is downloaded at the end of each shift, and its video and audio are kept for at least 30 days. If the video captures a crime or officer-involved shooting, it will be turned around quickly for evidence.
Soon, more and more CPD officers will be wearing body cameras. By the end of July more than 2,000 body cameras will be deployed to more than six districts across the city. That includes some of the most violent neighborhoods.
The department plans to release the videos from Friday night on its Facebook page.