Mundelein trustees support body cameras for cops

Mundelein's trustees on Monday voiced support for Police Chief Eric Guenther's plan to equip his officers with body cameras by January 2016.

All six trustees said they back the concept following Guenther's 30-minute presentation at village hall.

"I'm all for this," Trustee Ray Semple said.

Trustee Dakotah Norton was similarly enthused, saying the proposal had his "complete support."

Guenther made his pitch during a public safety committee meeting, so the trustees didn't vote on the matter. That likely will come after officials test different models, determine the potential cost and draw up policies for camera use and video storage.

Although police brutality and wrongdoing have been hot topics over the last year across the country, the meeting was sparsely attended and no one in the audience spoke about the issue.

Guenther told the committee the small cameras can help promote officer safety and accountability.

The machines also can build community relations, because officers and civilians should behave better when they know they're on camera, Guenther said.

Guenther hopes to launch a test program this fall. He proposed launching an advertising campaign to let the public know about the program before it begins.

"I don't want this to be a surprise to anybody," Guenther said.

The cameras and storage equipment could cost between $50,000 and $60,000, Guenther has said. State funding and grants could offset some of the cost.

Even though they supported the plan, several trustees had questions about how the technology would be used.

Concerned about "Big Brother," Kerston Russell asked if the data from the cameras would be shared with police departments across the nation or the federal government.

Guenther said that is possible but not a situation he'd prefer to see develop.

Trustee Holly Kim asked if officers would apply facial recognition software to the videos. Guenther said he's not planning to do that.

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