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updated: 11/21/2012 2:59 PM

Grant to replace in-car cameras for Aurora cops

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The same grant funding previously used to hire a special prosecutor to sue gang members in Kane County now likely will be used to buy new in-car cameras for Aurora police.

The Aurora City Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday night to using funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant to support replacement of in-car cameras that record officers' interactions with suspects and the public.

The city is looking to buy 100 new video cameras because the ones in its squad cars are outdated, according to a memo from Lt. Mike Abbs.

The cameras increase officer safety, help with investigations and can assist in determining the validity of misconduct accusations against police employees, according to Abbs. Replacing them is expected to cost at least $640,000, but only $606,616 had been set aside in various funds.

Grant funding totaling $41,867 will plug the $33,384 gap between available funds and the cost of replacing the in-car cameras, pending final city council approval Nov. 27.

Aurora actually will receive $88,536 from the Justice Assistance grant, known as the JAG grant, but the remaining $46,669 will be shared with Elgin and Kane County under an agreement the city council also approved Tuesday.

Funding from the 2011 JAG grant went toward hiring a special Kane County prosecutor to file civil lawsuits that prevent known gang members from congregating, loitering in certain locations and wearing certain color combinations, among other actions. That prosecutor in May filed suit against 35 Aurora gang members.

Other funding from the same source is likely to be used for more purchases the police department is looking to make. Abbs said ballistic vests and three types of ballistic shields -- including a heavy-duty shield on wheels that can be used to protect multiple officers at once -- will be bought with money from the 2009 round of funding, pending final city council approval Nov. 27.

The shields "are to supplement a small number we already have," Abbs said. With the planned purchase of 95 ballistic shields, a shield would be available for some unmarked and all marked squads.

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