A recent review of dash-cams installed in Chicago Police cruisers revealed that 80% of them don’t work. DNA info conducted a review of 1,800 police maintenance logs from the CPD, and found that, of the 850 dash-cam systems installed in it’s cars, 80% of them do not work as a result of “operator error or internal destruction”. Officers were said to have removed microphones, pulled out batteries, and removed or broke microphone antennae. In addition, 12% of those systems surveyed had a problem with “video issues” and “equipment or operator error”, according to Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman.
In fact, the Los Angeles Times reports that a similar issue has taken root in California.
Los Angeles police officers tampered with voice recording equipment in dozens of patrol cars in an effort to avoid being monitored while on duty, according to records and interviews.
An inspection by Los Angeles Police Department investigators found about half of the estimated 80 cars in one South L.A. patrol division were missing antennas, which help capture what officers say in the field. The antennas in at least 10 more cars in nearby divisions had also been removed.
The discovery comes on the heels of significant controversy regarding police violence, especially where the CPD is concerned. Of the five police cars present when Laquan McDonald was shot by CPD officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014, only two were capable of recording video, and all of them had their audio recording capability disabled somehow. The records for dashcam equipment in the squad car used by Van Dyke and his partner Joseph Walsh revealed that their gear had been repaired repeatedly for supposedly intentional damage. After taking three months to be repaired in 2014, a dashcam used in their car was broken the very next day. Van Dyke is currently on trial for first degree murder as a result of the shooting, and the family of Laquan McDonald was awarded a $5 million settlement by the Chicago City Council.
Activists have pushed heavily for mandatory dash cams and body cameras for on-duty police officers, but they’re simply a waste of taxpayer money if no oversight is implemented to ensure that they are being used and maintained. Clearly the habit of sabotaging recording devices is a serious issue at several police precincts. Is this just a case of a bunch of entitled officers resisting oversight? Or does round-the-clock monitoring of on-duty police officers create some serious concerns that need to be discussed? Let’s have a conversation and figure out how we can create police forces who feel like their ability to do their jobs is being truly served. Then maybe we can feel like we have a police force that truly serves us.