Gurnee approves body cameras, stun guns for all officers

  • Gurnee Police Chief Kevin Woodside says a cautious approach was taken before he recommended the village buy body cameras for all officers from Taser International. As part of a deal approved Monday, Taser will provide free stun guns to all Gurnee police officers.

    Gurnee Police Chief Kevin Woodside says a cautious approach was taken before he recommended the village buy body cameras for all officers from Taser International. As part of a deal approved Monday, Taser will provide free stun guns to all Gurnee police officers. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Posted12/20/2016 5:30 AM

All Gurnee police officers will be receiving body cameras and stun guns next year.

Village trustees on Monday night voted 5-0 in favor of a five-year, $438,915 agreement with Taser International for 60 cameras and a corresponding number of stun guns. Officials said money has been set aside in the current budget for the $102,064 first-year cost.

 

Mayor Kristina Kovarik and other proponents said the cameras are expected to protect police officers from false accusations.

Police Chief Kevin Woodside recommended to the elected officials that the cameras and stun guns be purchased from Arizona-based Taser. He said volunteer officers tested eight camera systems from six companies in the field before favoring Taser's cameras, which are manufactured under the company's Axon brand.

"On average, the Gurnee Police Department is required to use physical force in response to active aggression 20 times per year," Woodside said. "While this is a relatively small number, each use of force has the potential for disaster. These are situations where we would definitely be served by having video available."

Village Administrator Patrick Muetz said Taser will upgrade the body cameras halfway through the five-year deal. The stun guns will be replaced at the end of the fifth year.

In June, Woodside said he wanted to take a cautious approach to enacting the body cameras. The devices are part of a five-year strategic plan for police.

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Gurnee is one of the few Lake County police departments not using stun guns, which Woodside said are a proven, less-lethal option for officers. They also are known as conducted electrical weapons.

Since 2004, Woodside said, 34 Gurnee officers have been injured trying to arrest suspects, costing the village $2.3 million in workers' compensation payments. He said studies have shown stun gun use by police lead to fewer injuries.

Deputy Police Chief Willie Meyer said the department hopes to take delivery of the Tasers and body cameras "as soon as possible."

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