Body cameras a possibility for UP, official says


Luke Vogelzang/The Daily Northwestern

University Police said it is considering using body cameras, although it has not made a final decision on whether to equip officers with them. UP officers currently use dashboard cameras to record traffic stops.

Ciara McCarthy, Editor in Chief

University Police is discussing adding body-worn cameras to its existing surveillance technology as police departments throughout the country revisit the devices’ benefits.

“So much of our relationship with the community is based upon the trust we’ve already garnered,” UP Deputy Chief Dan McAleer said. “If body cameras would enhance the trust of our community, that’s something we would consider.”

UP has discussed equipping officers with body cameras but has not made any decisions yet, McAleer said. Police departments around the country are reevaluating their use of cameras and looking into body-camera programs. Evanston police say they will wait until body cameras are made explicitly legal before deciding to equip officers with them. Last month, the Chicago Police Department announced it would begin a body camera pilot program in 2015.

McAleer said body cameras were a point of discussion for UP before President Barack Obama called on Congress in December to fund the devices for departments throughout the country.

No UP officers currently use body cameras, although the department does use video surveillance from cameras located throughout Northwestern’s campus, McAleer said. Footage from cameras on campus are used to investigate crimes but are not regularly monitored, he added.

In addition, UP officers use in-car video systems to record traffic stops and other incidents. When an officer activates a patrol car’s overhead lights, the car’s video system automatically turns on. An officer can also manually start the surveillance if necessary, McAleer said.

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