Police, high schools setting rules for officer bodycams on campus
The Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg and Palatine police departments continue to work with Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 on protocols for school resource officers using state-mandated bodycams while on campus.
Schaumburg's public safety committee Thursday delayed discussion of a proposed agreement that governs when the cameras would be recording. The school district's board of education already has approved the agreement.
District 211 Director of Communications Erin Holmes said the agreement addresses both safety and privacy.
"Our school resource officers spend the majority of their time engaging in conversations with students and staff that are a part of their school community outreach," Holmes said. "The agreements with the police departments would clarify that the school resource officers would have their cameras off in these community caretaking roles. We have outstanding relationships with our police departments and villages and will work through the preferences for each of our three villages in how our agreements are documented."
District 211 operates Conant and Hoffman Estates high schools in Hoffman Estates; Fremd and Palatine high schools in Palatine; Schaumburg High School in Schaumburg; and two alternative high schools, the District 211 North Campus in Palatine and District 211 Higgins Education Center in Hoffman Estates.
The draft agreement specifies that cameras would be off during informal conversations with students and staff, discussions that are not related to crime, meetings about delinquent behavior or to develop response plans, and instructional discussions or presentations.
The cameras would be on when responding to a call or self-initiated activity pertaining to law enforcement; actions when facts are known or developing that could lead to an arrest; contact that becomes adversarial or aggressive; and whenever required by law.
In areas where there's a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as locker rooms and the nurse's office, cameras would be on only during law-enforcement activity, and with the officer announcing it.
Officers will share video with the school unless prohibited by law.
Before or after interviewing a student who's a victim or witness of a crime, the officer would inform a parent or guardian unless emergency circumstances exist. And the principal would be informed anytime a bodycam recording is made within the school.
"Nothing is there that would violate state law," Schaumburg Police Chief Bill Wolf said of the draft agreement.
In contrast, Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 has so far asked for nothing other than compliance with state law, Wolf added.
The new law mandating Illinois police departments serving populations of between 50,000 and 100,000 residents to use the body-worn cameras will take effect Jan. 1.
But with Hoffman Estates having started in February, Schaumburg in April and Palatine in May, all opted to have their school officers not use them on campus during the recently concluded school year.
Though District 211 has already approved the pending agreement with Schaumburg, there's an interest in making sure all three departments are working within similar guidelines, Wolf said.