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Preckwinkle Scraps Failed — And Costly — Homeland Security Program

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Operation Shield was supposed to equip safety vehicles with cameras. (CBS)

Operation Shield was supposed to equip safety vehicles with cameras. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Cook County is doing away with a 7-year-old program to, among other things, equip suburban police cars and fire trucks with cameras.

The $44 million dollar Project Shield is under investigation by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and the cameras have never really worked.

The word “inept” came up over and over again as County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Project Shield is done.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser Reports

Preckwinkle said the program was mismanaged from the start under her predecessor, former County Board President Todd Stroger.

“I can’t speak to their corruption, that’s for others to decide. Its surely ineptitude,” Preckwinkle said. “As a program, Project Shield fails on all accounts.”

She said there was waste and mismanagement under Stroger, but stopped short of saying it was criminal. But she fired David Ramos, who ran the program under Stroger.

“His leadership was inept and … his actions were at best inappropriate,” she said.

Cook County Homeland Security chief Michael Masters said that so little thought went into camera placement under the program that lives could be at risk.

“The deployment of the airbags may cause the equipment to be violently displaced as a projectile,” he said.

It’s also prohibitively expensive, considering the cameras don’t work, according to Masters.

“This system costs about $65,000 per vehicle, almost three times the wholesale value of a squad car,” he said.

The county is still paying a contractor, Johnson Controls Inc., nearly $200,000 a month under the program. The county is now demanding details about what the contractor is doing for the money.

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