Thursday, July 18, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
The village of Maywood is evaluating its options for purchasing body-worn cameras for Maywood Police officers after Mayor Edwenna Perkins prompted the police to look into the matter during a recent finance committee meeting.
During a July 9 regular board meeting, Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley presented his preliminary findings before asking the board to give him the go-ahead to identify possible camera suppliers and some ways of funding the technology.
“It’s a new technology to help improve transparency of police agencies and to collect evidence and documentation to settle disputes and other allegations of potential misconduct,” Talley said.
The chief said that, because the village has not budgeted for the purchase of body cameras, he’d rely on alternative funding, such as grants, to buy the equipment.
According to Government Technology magazine, each camera costs anywhere from $400 to $1,000, “but the storage costs are where the real expense comes in.”
The Maywood Police Department has 69 authorized personnel, including 40 full-time and 13 part-time patrol officers, according to the department’s 2019 annual report.
Talley said he’s looking for cameras with a variety of specific features, including front-facing screens, an articulating camera head that turns and is flexible, one-touch recording capabilities, ultra-low light performance capability and 12-hour life spans, since officers work 12-hour shifts.
The Law Enforcement Officer-Worn Body Camera Act requires each law enforcement agency that uses body cameras to provide a yearly report to the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board by May 1.
The report mush document “the number of cameras in use, the number of officers who have used body worn cameras, technical issues encountered with the use of such cameras and the review process used by supervisors,” according to the board’s website. “For each instance in which a body camera was used in a prosecution, the agency must indicate the date, time, location, offense and charging date.”
According to a 2016 Body Camera Report, the Broadview Police Department, which implemented its Officer Body-Worn Camera (BWC) program in 2016, equipped 26 of its officers with body cameras. The department had a total of 31 cameras. The chief, deputy chief and two commanders are not required to wear them.
In the report, Broadview police officials explained that battery life was the “main technical issues/problem” they were having with their body-worn cameras.
“Officers are on 12 hour shifts and found many of the batteries would die out at approximately 8-9 hours due to the extent of their usage,” the report indicated. “The Department purchased in-car chargers to successfully alleviate this problem.”
Broadview police officials added that their body-worn cameras “had a tendency to freeze in the pre-record mode which was fixed with a firmware update.” Officers with malfunctioning cameras were given placement cameras.
Talley said that he plans on returning to the board after conducting more research into the cameras.
During the July 9 meeting, Trustee Antonio Sanchez said that the idea for looking into the body cameras came out of a finance committee meeting held earlier this year. He said that Mayor Perkins prompted village administrators to consider adding the technology.
Trustee Miguel Jones said that he hopes the department doesn’t look to body-worn cameras as a panacea.
“I hope this is just one of many steps in ensuring that officers’ reactions with residents are professional,” he said.
Board settles civil rights lawsuit
During a regular meeting on June 4, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a $55,000 settlement agreement between Patrick Sweenie and members of the Maywood Police Department.
In February 2017, Sweenie filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the village’s administrative hearing department, enforcement department, community development department, police chief, two police officers (a commander and a sergeant), and a former administrative hearing officer.
Sweenie claimed that on August 29, 2016, he was arrested without probable cause by Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley, Commander Theodore Yancy and Sergeant Daryl Fairley. More on the lawsuit here.
The settlement agreement is not “an admission or evidence of any wrongdoing or liability by” the plaintiff or the defendants, according to language in the agreement. VFP
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