Emanuel announces that every CPD officer now has a body camera

CHICAGO (Fox 32 News) The Chicago Police Department had completed the process of rolling out body cameras to every officer in the city, the superintendent and mayor announced Sunday.

Police have said the program will improve community trust by equipping 7,000 officers with the devices, making the department the largest in the nation to do so. The department began the process in 2015 and finishes one year ahead of schedule, originally hoping to complete it by the end of 2018.

Using a short video, Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said using the devices adds momentum to efforts aimed at improving community trust.

In addition to protecting the rights of the people that we serve, these devices also help us take a look at what we're doing right and where we can improve,” Johnson said.Emanuel said the body cameras are “an essential tool of transparency that builds our community policing.”

The timeline for full implementation grew in urgency after the release of video showing the shooting of LaQuan McDonald. Instrumental in the video of McDonald’s shooting being publicly released was activist William Calloway who remains skeptical about the city’s body worn camera program.

"The body cameras prove absolutely nothing. It doesn't ensure our public safety from law enforcement from using excessive force,” Calloway said.

Calloway believes the cameras do little to regain community trust, pointing to what he calls a shortfall by the city's police board in holding officers accountable, and points to the still pending case of ex-cop Jason Van Dyke, charged with McDonald’s murder.

“The Chicago Police Department is not fixed until their officers' start being held accountable by being prosecuted and convicted, I don't see this culture change at all, body cams or not,” he said.

The video from the cameras will be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. The public can request the footage in cases involving use of force, an arrest, or allegation of misconduct.