City Council members on July 23 approved an expansion of two issues of equipment for Evanston police officers: body-worn cameras and conductive electric weapons – sometimes called Tasers.

Through various grants, some Evanston police officers have had body-worn cameras since 2016, when a federal grant through the U.S. Department of Justice and Northwestern University Police funded 120 cameras.

A second grant, in 2017, through the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance in partnership with the Northwestern University Police, expanded the number of cameras.

This year’s grant from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance will cover half of the cost of the first two years of the five-year contract with Axon Enterprises, Inc., of Scottsdale, Ariz. The first year will cost the City $26,000; the second year, $34,000; and the succeeding three years $69,000 annually.

The first round of body-worn cameras went to patrol and traffic officers, the Department’s Problem Solving Team and the Special Operations Group. This latest round of body-worn cameras is for officers who had not yet been issued cameras, including detectives, juvenile detectives and school resource officers, Police Chief Richard Eddington told the RoundTable.

Deputy Police Chief Joseph Dugan told the RoundTable the school resource officers will have their cameras on only in the case of law-enforcement matters.

A memo from Chief Eddington and Deputy Chief Dugan said Axon Technologies has a “robust system” that can meet the storage needs and other requirements of Illinois State law.The Police Department has more than 27,000 videos in the Axon system, taking up more than 11 terabytes of storage, according to the memo.

The memo also said, “Body-worn cameras for law-enforcement personnel are a best practice to reduce police complaints by citizens and increase accountability to the public. … The integration of the Axon fleet system with body cameras helps to ensure no loss or misplacement of videos and the ability to activate cameras when an officer uses their emergency equipment in the vehicle or the deployment of a conductive electric weapon. The benefits of the integrated system allowed field personnel to be accountable and ensure the best police service possible to the citizens and visitors of Evanston.”

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...