- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Springfield’s police chief says a state law requiring officers to wear body cameras is too burdensome to local squads.

Chief Kenny Winslow told the (Springfield) State Journal-Register (https://bit.ly/1kTvoPJ ) Tuesday that the cameras will produce so much video the city might have to hire an additional person to handle Illinois Freedom of Information Act requests.

Winslow said the law requires an end-of-year report on each incident in which cameras are used, meaning even more administrative work.

“When the law was passed, it created a lot of guidance for departments,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s a lot of guidance we didn’t plan on.”

Police “want to embrace this technology,” Winslow said, and he acknowledges there are benefits. But he hopes lawmakers tweak the law to make it more “user-friendly.”

Lawmakers adopted the policy after highly publicized citizen-police encounters such as in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer fatally shot an 18-year-old black man in August 2014.

The new Illinois law takes effect Jan. 1. Ed Wojcicki, executive director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said other police departments share Winslow’s concerns.

“Conceptually, the association and probably most police chiefs would love to have body cameras, because we think it’s good for police and the citizens,” Wojcicki said. “But there are some aspects of this law that make it difficult to implement easily.”

Springfield police have implemented a pilot program to evaluate body cameras. Eight officers started wearing the cameras in the field about two weeks ago, and Winslow said it’s going well so far. The cameras are activated by officers when responding to calls.

Patrolman Dave Barringer, who is testing a glasses-mounted camera, said it has come in handy, including when he stopped one driver for speeding.

“Once I told him the video camera was running, he immediately calmed down,” Barringer said. “He realized that we were being recorded and anything he said could come back and haunt him if he wasn’t careful.”


Information from: The State Journal-Register, https://www.sj-r.com

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