Champaign City Council To Consider Police Bodycams

July 26, 2016

The Champaign City Council explores the idea of body cameras for its police officers at study session Tuesday night. 

Currently, the Champaign County Sheriff and Rantoul Police are the only departments in the county using them.

Rantoul Sergeant Marcus Beach says complaints from the public have been greatly reduced since his department started using the body cameras in late 2014.  And he sees another benefit. 

“Typically, I do it just as more of a quality control thing to make sure our officers are acting appropriately, and they’re making correct decisions out on the streets, when I can’t be at a call,” said Beach.

But there are mixed opinions from other departments on whether bodycam technology is worth the cost.

Bodycams have been tested, but not purchased, by Monticello Police.  Chief John Carter says the software his department tried made it hard to redact, or remove, portions of a video he felt no one needs to see… such as the inside of a home after a domestic disturbance call:

“They don’t need to have everybody’s business in their private residence that the officers see,” said Carter. “To be able to redact that – you got to have good software that will take out faces of juveniles.  If I had somebody come into my house with a camera, I don’t want them seeing what all I have, and then sharing that with the world.”

It takes an estimated five to ten hours to redact a single hour of video… which Carter says could require paying for overtime, or the hiring of another officer.  Adding body cameras also mean upgrading the storage system currently used for squad car dashcam videos.  

Story source: WILL