Antioch police to upgrade in-car video, add body-worn cameras

The Antioch police in-car video system will be upgraded and all department members equipped with body-worn cameras.

Village officials recently authorized the purchase, service, support and maintenance of an integrated squad car and body-worn camera system.

An agreement with CDS Office Technologies includes the purchase of 30 cameras, installation of hardware and software, programming, setup and training.

Chief Geoff Guttschow said the new system represents an "ongoing commitment to transparency" by improving the way encounters with the public are documented. The system should be fully operational in spring.

Guttschow said all 12 patrol vehicles will be equipped with a forward facing dash camera and an internal rear passenger compartment camera.

All patrol officers, supervisors, detectives and command staff will be equipped with a body-worn camera, he added.

Antioch police have an authorized strength of 29.

The total cost is about $183,000, Guttschow said. It's funded with a combination of general village funds, fees collected per state law from DUI convictions and a grant.

The department has been using squad dash cameras for 20 years. The current system, purchased around 2007, is no longer adequate and can't be maintained or repaired, Guttschow added.

During the 2020-21 village budget process, the consensus of elected officials, the community and officers was that body-worn cameras should be seriously considered, he said.

Options and features were researched and the Panasonic Arbitrator system was selected. The village board approved the agreement with CDS Nov. 9.

The decision was six years in the making for Trustee Ed Macek, who successfully advocated for cameras in parks and at village hall.

He said he donated $3,000 toward the new system, which will offer "three-tier protection" for the village, police and public.

"We just boosted our professionalism in Antioch," Macek said.

Mayor Larry Hanson said it became clear video documentation protects the integrity of the police department and the public.

"Now you won't have discrepancies unless the cameras fail," Hanson said.

Body-worn cameras are in use in several agencies, including Lakemoor, Waukegan, Mundelein, Gurnee and the Lake County sheriff's office, which began its program in early 2016.

"Body cameras are just another tool we'll use to do our jobs," said Round Lake Beach Police Chief Gilbert Rivera.

His department is reviewing its policies and procedures in advance of implementing the system, said Rivera, who serves as president of the Lake County Chiefs of Police Association.

In July, Vernon Hills equipped select officers with cameras to evaluate the system. As a result, the entire department was equipped and the program fully implemented in early October.

Similar to Antioch, the system is an expansion of the squad car cameras so the learning curve wasn't too extreme and officers are responding well, said Jim Levicki, commander of administrative services.

He added that supervisors conduct random checks for policy compliance.

Body-worn cameras will be used to enhance training protocols, Levicki added, as they allow for better review of a critical incident to determine what was done well and what needs improvement.

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Mundelein police officers to wear body cameras starting this summer

Police often use broad exemption to keep videos from public

Vernon Hills police to test body cameras

Vernon Hills Police Officer Ryan Yaeger checks equipment. A body-worn camera system was implemented for all police department personnel in early October. Courtesy of Vernon Hills police
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