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Evanston aldermen approve funds for police body cameras

Sophia Bollag, Managing Editor

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Aldermen on Monday gave the city manager’s office permission to apply for a grant to help fund body-worn cameras for Evanston police.

If the city secures the grant, which would provide federal funding but is administered by Cook County, Evanston will have to match some of the funds the grant provides.

By giving the city manager’s office permission to apply, aldermen effectively approved the funds Evanston will have to match if it receives the grant, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz told The Daily.

The grant application is due the second week of March. Evanston police Cmdr. Joseph Dugan, a spokesman for the department, said he doesn’t know how long the grant application will take to process.

“We have good ideas of what we’d like to do, but … it’s not going to be something that happens real quick,” Dugan told The Daily. “It’s going to be a lengthy process.”

Evanston police have not decided how many cameras they would purchase or which officers would use the cameras if the city secures the grant, Dugan said. However, he said he anticipates the department would start by equipping a small number of officers with cameras and then expanding the program to more of the police force.

The cameras would increase transparency, help record evidence at crime scenes and aid the department internally to assess complaints filed against its officers, Dugan said.

The grant requires police departments to partner with academic institutions to gauge how effective the cameras are. EPD has approached several universities about a potential partnership, Evanston police Chief Richard Eddington said, although he declined to say which ones.

State lawmakers have not explicitly legalized police body cameras in Illinois but are drafting legislation to do so. State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Buffalo Grove) and state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) are drafting legislation to regulate police body cameras they hope to bring before the legislature this year, John Amdor, a spokesman for Nekritz, told The Daily last month.

“I’m certain that Illinois law will catch up,” Eddington told The Daily on Sunday. “I expect the law to be changed by the time we see the grant money.”

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Twitter: @SophiaBollag

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