On Jan. 26, the Evanston Police Department (EPD) fully implemented its Body-Worn Camera Program. Nationwide, the use of body-worn cameras has become a best practice for police departments, said the EPD in a prepared statement. “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 assist 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.”  

This program started with a pilot program in which nine officers and two supervisors from the EPD tested body-worn cameras between June and September 2017. The use of the body-worn camera proved to be a valuable tool in all phases of police operations, including in investigating criminal incidents and complaints by citizens about police conduct, said the EPD.

The program is a cooperative effort between the EPD and the Northwestern University Police Department. Working in partnership, the departments were able to secure a federal grant that assisted in funding the body-worn camera program for both departments. The EPD has been able to purchase 120 body-worn cameras.

Going forward, all Evanston Police Officers in the field will be using a body-worn camera and recording all public encounters consistent with State law, said the EPD. Citizens should have the expectation that encounters that are not exempted by State law will be recorded. 

A body-worn camera page has been added to the City of Evanston website that includes, a draft copy of the EPD’s 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 final version of the policy will be added to the website at a later date.