EPD introduces public safety portal to aid investigations


(Daily file photo by Zack Laurence)

An Evanston Police Department squad car. EPD announced Wednesday that it would use a new software to allow citizens to upload video footage of police interactions.

Syd Stone, City Editor

The Evanston Police Department announced Wednesday it will begin using a new software to allow citizens to upload video footage of police interactions for ongoing investigations.

Axon Citizen is a public safety portal provided by Axon, the same company that provides body camera services to EPD, Evanston police Cmdr. Ryan Glew said. When an officer or detective learns that a citizen has captured media relevant to an ongoing investigation, EPD will be able to invite the citizen to upload the media to a website — Evidence.com — managed by the department and Axon, according to a Wednesday EPD news release.

Glew said the new program is more efficient than having citizens turn in their devices for EPD to download the footage. He said the software is “more user friendly” and “less intrusive” to citizens.

“It’s so much easier, so much simpler, so much better,” Glew said. “Instead of taking that device, downloading the information off of that device, puting that information on a file or disk and then inventorying it, we don’t need to take the device.”

He said the system will be useful in supplementing body camera footage. Even though body cameras can be “great” for increasing transparency in the department, their effectiveness is restricted because of their placement on an officer’s chest, Glew said. Citizen footage will give EPD a more complete picture of an incident, especially when citizens film an incident before officers arrive on the scene.

Glew pointed to a recent stabbing case as an example of a case that would benefit from Axon Citizen. He said witnesses captured part of the incident on their phones, and with the new website, the investigation process will become more efficient.

To access Evidence.com, citizens must receive an email or text invitation from the department, according to the release. Glew said this is so people don’t just “randomly” upload videos to the website and so EPD can trust the validity of the footage.

In addition to collecting footage, Axon Citizen tracks, organizes and tags the media in a way that makes it easier for EPD to use for ongoing investigations, Glew said.

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Twitter: @sydstone16