Wood Dale police getting body cameras

Wood Dale police officers are expected to be equipped with body cameras by January.

The city has spent $87,610 to buy a new camera system for the police department's 35 sworn officers and four community service officers. Decade-old cameras in squad cars already have been replaced as part of the purchase.

"It gives a full record of what really happens in a situation," Police Chief Greg Vesta said. "It's beneficial to both law enforcement and the public to have this level of transparency."

Earlier this year, the city council approved the purchase of the Panasonic Arbitrator cameras. The police department picked the system because it syncs between squad and body cameras, has the ability to eliminate a separate microphone for the squad camera, and manages digital evidence on one platform.

The department began using the squad car cameras in February and is expected to start using the body cameras by Jan. 1.

Money for the purchase came from the $200,000 DUI Technology Fund, which is supported by DUI convictions and fines that are assessed by the court.

The cameras will have 12 hours of battery life with replaceable batteries, as well as mounting kits for the officer's uniforms. Wood Dale PD is hoping to get grants to reduce the cost of the cameras by up to $62,000, which could be approved by next spring.

Vesta says camera protocols will follow Illinois state law. The devices will be on when officers are in emergency driving situations, executing search warrants, on routine calls or calls for service, doing searches, or transporting suspects.

Storage will not be kept on the cloud. Instead, the department will have on-site storage to save videos captured by video equipment at almost no cost to the village.

High-profile cases that are recorded will be kept for a minimum of two years, and routine calls will be deleted after 90 days. That decision will save the village $100,000, officials said.

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