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Local

Minooka police discontinue body camera use

Chief: Workload for staff increased too much

Minooka police officer Denise Byrd holds up the Titan Body Camera last July. The cameras were used by the department on a trial run and were developed by BatteryJack of Minooka. The Minooka Police Department stopped using them in January.
Minooka police officer Denise Byrd holds up the Titan Body Camera last July. The cameras were used by the department on a trial run and were developed by BatteryJack of Minooka. The Minooka Police Department stopped using them in January.

MINOOKA – The Minooka Police Department has stopped using officer body cameras after a six-month testing phase.

Last year, Illinois was one of the first states in the country to pass legislation creating comprehensive law enforcement rules for body cameras. The law did not mandate that police departments use them, but it did specify how and when they should be used if a department elects to use them.

Minooka Police Chief Justin Meyer said Friday the issue was not with the functionality of the cameras, but that it became a burden for staff to fill the many requests for video footage.

Meyer described a hypothetical example of the extra work it created for department staff.

“You could have four officers on a call for a domestic incident,” Meyer said. “If they are on scene for an hour – whether there’s an arrest or not – that’s four hours of video that has to be uploaded.”

Then, when cases reached the court system, there were many requests for the videos from attorneys and anyone else involved in the case. Officers were required to turn the cameras on for any law enforcement situation, from directing traffic to serious crime responses, Meyer said.

“I was happy [with the body cameras],” Meyer said. “It just became a bit burdensome for our administrative staff.”

The department was the first Grundy County agency to start using body cameras. It employed 10 of them in July as part of a 60- to 90-day trial run, which ended up lasting through January of this year. BatteryJack of Minooka supplied the cameras, which were shared by the department’s 15 uniformed officers.

The cameras could record up to nine hours of continuous footage with 16 GB of storage. They were plugged into a USB port at the department after a shift to collect the footage and recharge the battery.

The Braidwood Police Department began accepting donations to fund its body camera program earlier this year.

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