City of Highland Park Police Launch Body-Worn Camera Program
September 20, 2022 – The City of Highland Park announces the launch of its body-worn camera (BWC) program throughout the Police Department. Body-worn cameras provide the City with increased tools to collect data, document encounters with members of the public, assist in investigations, and enhance training opportunities. The BWC program augments the Police Department’s existing use of in-car cameras and integrates with Taser activations.
The City has leased the integrated BWC system from Axon Enterprises, Inc. at a total cost of $760,240 for a five-year lease. The City’s BWC implementation comes two and a half years prior to the State of Illinois requirement that all uniformed police officers wear body cameras by January 1, 2025. Prior to implementation of the program, a team consisting of City staff from key departments and divisions researched and tested systems for a four-month period. The BWC program was discussed at length with community stakeholders as part of the 2021 Police Department strategic planning process, which was ultimately presented to City Council in December 2021. Community members also expressed interest in a BWC program following national discussions surrounding law enforcement engagement with communities of color in 2020.
“The implementation of the body-worn camera program demonstrates the City Council’s strong commitment to the City’s core priority of Public Safety,” said Mayor Nancy Rotering. “The City’s long-term, strategic financial planning has enabled us to implement this important tool that increases transparency and strengthens public safety in a fiscally-responsible manner ahead of the state requirement.”
According to Illinois law, officers’ BWC must be turned on at all times when an officer is in uniform and responding to calls for service or engaged in law-enforcement related activities while on-duty. Although cameras are always on, recording will be activated by the officer, and/or some of the camera’s automatic recording capabilities. The camera will save 30 seconds of video without audio prior to activation. Individuals should assume that an officer’s camera is recording when engaging with the police department. Under Illinois law, individuals may request that an officer turn off their camera while making a report, but it is at the officer’s discretion to do so, based upon safety considerations and the specific circumstances of that call.
“Body-worn cameras represent a significant investment in our Department’s ability to continue to build and maintain trust and engagement with our community, one of the Department’s core priorities,” said Chief of Police Lou Jogmen. “In line with the Ten Shared Principles of Public Safety, developed through a partnership of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois NAACP, body-worn cameras will be a vital component of our community policing strategy. We are proud of the community-informed process that we underwent over the last two years in exploring, evaluating, and implementing these new tools that will enhance service to our community.”
On an annual basis, law enforcement agencies utilizing BWC programs must provide an annual report to the Illinois Law Enforcement Training & Standards Board (ILETSB). The report must include information about the department, their process, and specific details for each recording used in prosecutions of conservation, criminal or traffic offenses, and municipal ordinance violations. ILETSB will evaluate and synthesize the information from statewide departments for an annual report to the General Assembly.
Further information about the City of Highland Park Police Department Strategic Plan 2022-2026 is available at cityhpil.com/police.