Evanston police begin summer-long body camera test


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Two parked Evanston police cars. The Evanston Police Department in partnership with University Police received a grant to implement body cameras.

Rishika Dugyala , Reporter

Evanston Police Department officers and supervisors began testing body-worn cameras Friday in a pilot program expected to last through the summer.

In a news release, Evanston police Cmdr. Joseph Dugan said EPD — in partnership with University Police — received a grant to implement a body-worn camera program at each agency.

The initial testing phase will allow personnel to determine the reliability of the equipment and address possible procedural or technical issues, Dugan said. Nine officers and two supervisors will wear the cameras.

“Nationwide, the use of body-worn cameras have become a best practice for police departments,” Dugan said. “The presence of a body-worn camera has a positive effect on the behavior of both officers and citizens during encounters.”

EPD began to consider implementation of body cameras in 2015, and pursued funding once Gov. Bruce Rauner formally legalized their use in August of that year.

In fall 2015, the city’s first application for a federal grant of more than $600,000 to establish wearable cameras for EPD was denied. City officials have said the program could cost about $400,000 the first year and $200,000 each year afterward.

Gloria Graham, UP’s deputy chief of police, told The Daily in February that EPD hopes to have body cameras formally implemented by 2018, but UP will aim to establish the program by the beginning of the upcoming academic year.

Law enforcement agencies are using body-worn cameras to strengthen officer performance and accountability, enhance transparency and better document encounters between police and the public, Dugan said.

The pilot program follows the January release of a video depicting the 2015 arrest of Lawrence Crosby, a Northwestern graduate student who was arrested after someone mistook him for stealing a car that he owned.

This incident, along with the arrest of now-city clerk Devon Reid for petitioning for office in downtown Evanston, has spurred a broader conversation about racial bias in policing and the need for reform.

Former 9th Ward alderman Brian Miller told The Daily in February that cameras were a step in the right direction.

“I fully support the cameras,” Miller said. “But at the same time, we’ve got to make sure we’re addressing what the cameras actually show.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @rdugyala822