All Wheeling police to have body cameras by end of February, chief says

All Wheeling police officers should be equipped with body cameras by the end of February, Police Chief Jamie Dunne announced during Monday's village board meeting.

The village board agreed to purchase 55 body cameras - as well as new cameras for squad cars - in December. The gear was expected to cost $238,495.

The body cameras arrived about two weeks ago, Dunne said. Officials are setting up the software for the devices and getting bases to hold the cameras in place on uniforms.

Body cameras typically are small black boxes worn mid-torso on the front of the uniform. They record video and audio.

They can provide evidence for trials, be used to prove or disprove allegations of abuse or inappropriate behavior by police officers, and help determine training needs, among other benefits.

The village board authorized the purchase at the end of a year marked by protests and civil unrest prompted by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and other violent police encounters.

Wheeling's cameras will activate automatically when a squad car's emergency lights are turned on, a squad car reaches a certain speed or there is a crash.

The system also can be manually operated or triggered by actions such as a call for service.

Body cameras will be mandatory for all departments in Illinois by 2025 under a criminal justice reform bill passed by state lawmakers last week. The legislation awaits Gov. J.B. Pritzker's signature.

Dunne noted Wheeling police are ahead of the curve when it comes to cameras.

The Mount Prospect, Antioch, Bloomingdale and Batavia police departments are among the other suburban agencies that have purchased body cameras for officers in recent months.

Mundelein police officers have worn cameras since 2017. Police in Gurnee, Lakemoor, East Dundee and Chicago have worn them for years, too.

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