CPD to consider body cameras


By Caeli Clearly

The Champaign Police Department is currently considering implementing the use of body cameras for police officers.

The Department of Justice is funding $20 million for police departments to purchase body cameras as part of a three-year, $75 million program to allow local law enforcement agencies the necessary resources to combat any issues they may face in their communities, according to a press release.

Joe Gallo, deputy chief of operations at the Champaign Police Department, said the videos from the camera would be used if there were any questions about events involving the police. However, the amount of video is a concern for the department.

“The concern from the administration standpoint is, do we have the ability to handle the back-end solution?” Gallo said. “125 officers wearing body cameras — that is going to be a lot of video that is coming in on a daily basis. How do we classify that, how do we enter it in as evidence?”

Gallo said states on the West Coast have tried using body cameras, but the amount of video that comes in and the work required to sift through them is too overwhelming, so they have stopped use of the cameras for now.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

According to the OJP Diagnostic Center report, “Police Officer Body-Worn Cameras,” there are benefits and concerns to using body cameras.

Advocates of body cameras cite benefits such as transparency, improved police and citizen behavior and rapid resolution of complaints and lawsuits against cameras police officers, the report states. Opponents of the body cameras have concerns about the privacy of officers and citizens, the officer’s health and safety because of the extra piece of equipment and financial costs — each body camera can cost between $800 and $1000.

At a Champaign town hall meeting, Chief of Police Anthony Cobb also questioned the way the videos would be handled. Two and a half job positions are required to go through 40 squad car videos, and if body cameras are used, the number of people needed would rise exponentially, Cobb said.

“Even if we have the money to buy the cameras, do we have the resources to take care of the baggage?” he asked.

Tom Bruno, at-large Champaign City Council alderman, said he’s not opposed to the use of body cameras, but said the society will have to confront initial issues.

“There have been cases where we wish there might have been a video camera to know the truth better about certain circumstances, like Ferguson, Missouri, so it (is) a compelling argument for body cameras,” Bruno said. “But the devil is in the details.”

[email protected]