(Reuters) – City leaders in Chicago on Sunday announced expansion of the police department’s body-worn camera program in the wake of a murder charge filed last week against an officer for shooting a black teenager to death.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said additional cameras will enhance public trust, although their statement did not directly refer to the charges against Officer Jason Van Dyke.
Van Dyke fired 16 times in killing Laquan McDonald, 17, a video police released last week shows. The video of the October 2014 shooting by Van Dyke, who is white, has triggered large civil rights protests in downtown Chicago.
The video clip, taken by a camera mounted on the dashboard of a squad car, showed McDonald being shot as he turned away from officers. Police were responding to reports that McDonald had a knife and was suspected of burglarizing cars, police said.
Cameras worn by police involved in fatal shootings have led to unreasonable force accusations against police officers in recent cases around the country. Police say the cameras also document when officers act properly.
Six additional Chicago police districts will begin using body cameras by mid-2016 in a program funded by a $1.1 million federal grant matched equally by city funds, according to the news release. The body cameras can also serve as an in-vehicle recording device, the city officials said.
“Expanding this successful program into one-third of the city will help enhance transparency and credibility as well as strengthen the fabric of trust that is vital between police and the community, ” Emanuel said in the news release.
McCarthy said body cameras protect citizens and police, reduce complaints against police and can be used as evidence and as a training tool.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by Chris Reese)