Afternoon shift patrol officers Dagmara Koste, left, and Pauline Pogorzelski who are two participants in the program.Photo from the Evanston Police Deparatment

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On June 2, nine officers and two supervisors from the Evanston Police Department began testing body-worn cameras during their shifts.

The Evanston Police Department, in partnership with the Northwestern University Police Department, received a grant to implement a body-worn camera program at each agency.

Nationwide, the use of body-worn cameras has become a best practice for police departments. Law-enforcement agencies are using body-worn cameras in different ways, including improvements in evidence collection, strengthening of officer performance and accountability, enhancing transparency, better documentation during encounters between the police and the public, and to assisting in the investigation of complaints.

Studies have shown that the presence of a body-worn camera has a positive effect on the behavior of both officers and citizens during encounters. 

The initial testing phase will not only allow Evanston Police personnel to test the reliability and effectiveness of the equipment, but also address any procedural or technical issues that may arise.

As part of the pilot program, the Evanston Police Department initiated a policy related to the officers use of body-worn cameras.  The testing and evaluation phase of the body-worn camera program will last throughout the summer. 

A body-worn camera page has been added to the City of Evanston website, which includes a draft copy of the EPD policy, a link to the State of Illinois law regarding body-worn cameras, and a survey that solicits input from the community on the program. 

The Northwestern Police Department began exploring the use of body-worn cameras in April 2016. The University will now begin a pilot phase in which five Northwestern police officers will wear the cameras for a 30-day trial period. The feedback provided from both NU officers and community members will inform how the university will proceed with full implementation in the fall.