University Police officers began a 30-day trial period of wearing body cameras Wednesday, deputy chief of police Gloria Graham said.
Chief of Police Bruce Lewis announced in an email Tuesday that five UP officers will participate in the trial and use body-worn cameras while on duty. Feedback from both the officers and community members will help inform UP how to implement the program in the fall, the email said.
“It’s one of those initiatives that you try and think of every situation and try to write into policy all the different nuances,” Graham told The Daily, “but until you really start using it, you don’t know how well it’s going to work in your particular community or what are going to be special circumstances that come up.”
The current trial phase is the first of two, possibly three, tests of different body-worn cameras, Graham said. All five officers who volunteered for the first trial will be wearing the same type of camera, she said.
UP also coordinated its trial to line up with the Evanston Police Department’s test of body-worn cameras, Graham said.
“We’re testing the same product at the same time, so that we can communicate back and forth and see how they’re liking it (and) how we’re liking it,” she said.
In addition to receiving feedback from other law enforcement agencies, Graham said UP is also encouraging community members to share their comments about the program.
Graham said there are multiple ways for community members to leave feedback about the cameras. She said people can either contact her or Lewis directly, or go through UP’s website.
“It’s the most amount of transparency we can do around this,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons we created the website, so people have a direct avenue to give us feedback on this.”
Following the product trials, Graham said UP hopes to decide on a vendor and have implementation begin in August. The goal is to have the body-worn cameras be in full use by the end of the calendar year, if not sooner, she said.
“If we decide this is a technology we’re going to use, our policy says that all of the police officers assigned to patrol in uniform would wear body-worn cameras,” she said.
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