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Are Cops in Chicago Camera Shy?

The city’s Office of Inspector General says so, according to a report that found them failing to follow departmental guidelines for body-worn cameras. The compliance evaluation, published July 30th is a litany of laxity in supervision and review across the city’s seven districts. It says that cops routinely go unpunished for failing to turn the cameras on, as they’re required to do when interacting with the citizenry.

The office’s look into the program over a five-month period that ended in March of last year shows that random daily inspections of body cam video failed to take place as required. And what inspections did occur were biased toward shorter clips recorded by officers with a reputation for adherence to departmental procedure. A departmental evaluation committee neither kept to its quarterly meeting schedule nor did it implement uniform standards across districts.

The damning critique cites the July 2016 shooting of 18-year-old Paul O’Neill, an unarmed suspect in a car theft, by a cop who didn’t have his camera on as among policy failures that could be avoided with greater supervision. The program in Chicagobecame the nation’s largest when 7,000 camera were distributed department wide at the end of 2017. The union representing cops in Chicago is fighting the program on labor-relations grounds.