Police Use Of ‘Body Cams,’ Stun Gun Cameras Stirs Controversy

CHICAGO (CBS) — Police officers are using a new tool to catch criminals and protect themselves from bogus allegations. Some departments are beginning to have officers wear cameras on their uniforms, and they also are equipping stun guns with cameras.

CBS 2’s Dave Savini looks at this new technology and the controversy around it.

In a Minnesota police station, a man walked in bleeding from his neck; he had cut his own throat, and was carrying a knife. An officer turned on what is commonly called a “body camera” and captured all that happened before the man could be apprehended.

The camera caught officers drawing their weapons, and repeatedly ordering the man to drop the knife before they were able to subdue him.

Exactly what happened in this case is not in dispute, because it was all captured by the police body camera.

One of the first police departments in Illinois to use body cameras is at Benedictine University. Police there have been using body cameras to document crime on campus since 2008.

“They know the camera is on,” says Benedictine University Police Chief Mike Salatino. “And it changes everything.”

Chief Salatino says they use the cameras to catch illegal drug and alcohol use on campus, criminal property damage, slip and fall injuries and other problems.

Those cameras protect police, too, says Deputy Chief Paul Creekmore.

“It’s a silent partner for the officer; in case there might be an allegation against the officer, he acted improperly, he didn’t do something or he did too much,” says Creekmore. “It’s all here on the videotape.”

The body cameras are similar to dashboard cameras, which are allowed in Illinois.

However, some legal experts – including the American Civil Liberties Union – say tough recording laws in the state might mean police body cameras could be challenged in court as not being legal, especially if they have audio.

Some police departments, including the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office, are using cameras mounted on stun guns. Again, it records everything, taking out the “he said, she said” aspect of a police confrontation.

CBS 2 contacted several companies that manufacture these cameras and found they are having a hard time selling the cameras in Illinois, because of the strict recording laws.

There are a variety of police departments using them. CBS 2 checked with Chicago Police, and was told they are not using body cameras.

Benedictine University police disabled the audio recording portion of their body cameras, because of Illinois’ two-party consent law, which requires both parties who might be recorded to authorize the taping of conversations.

More from Dave Savini
  • Max

    Then there shouldn’t be any problem with citizens video taping the police.

    It looks like the police are all for it and that’s fine with me.

    What will they do with their own footage of police misconduct? What if they repeatedly tazer a guy who dies on the scene from being tazed? What will they do with their own footage?

    • Jim

      I also think this is a good idea. These ass heads that cry police brutality when their loved one was resisting arrest and fighting with the police, resulting in injury or death, will not be able to whine because the proof will be on video. Imagine how different the family of the autistic kid would be acting if a video of the kid rushing police with a knife was all over the evening news.

      • Jim

        @NWA, You, again, are defending a criminal act. If you rush police with a knife(type is irrelevant) you will be shot. I also would not have hesitated to take out this violent young homie. What is the matter with you?

      • NWA

        Yeah right, I’ve seen what a case knife (butter knife) can do to a bullet proof vest. They leave these damn scratches that you just can’t buff out.


  • Just Axin

    Uh oh, the brothers aint gonna like these damn cameras….

  • Just Axin

    Jim- Don’t sweat it. The NWAs, Lyndias, jujus never got attention when they were shorties so they crave it now. Same thing for the brothers who yuk it up in the theaters, sing and chat loudly while using CTA, etc. You were incorrect when you said the autistic (“artistic” as the brothers say) kid’s family wouldn’t whine if it was recorded. Of course they would! They would say the po po doctored up the footage or that it doesn’t show the whole thing. A butterknife can easliy be used in areas not well protected by a vest and still be deadly (armpit, groin, face). When the above mentioned clowns need help, who they finna call? 911 of course and when they arrive, they will be made to feel unwelcomed.

  • http://travel2chicago.us/chicago-news-stories-formar-01-2012/ Chicago News Stories for Mar 01 2012 : Travel tips, hotels, restaurants, jobs and news | Travel 2 Chicago

    […] wanted to be in one, would you say yes? Should you say yes? CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman takes a look.Police Use Of ‘Body Cams,’ Stun Gun Cameras Stirs ControversyPolice officers are using a new tool to catch criminals and protect themselves from bogus […]

  • tony

    Im sure law firms like loevy and loevy will be fighting this new form of law enforcement.

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