Lawmakers suggest new way to pay for police cameras

By Kelsey Gibbs |

Published 09/03 2014 05:56PM

Updated 09/15 2014 11:54AM

Latest: 6:43 pm, 9/12/14, Friday
SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois residents could be paying for new gear for law enforcement officers. WCIA-3's Kelsey Gibbs explains how the new proposal can provide cops with an extra set of eyes.

Transparency in a police department is number one. Ask Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson and he'll tell you why.

"So it's going to protect not only the public but, it's going to protect the officer involved, so I think, all-around, it's a great idea."

That great idea is body cameras for police officers.

"Cameras would go a long way to prove that they complained work for frivolous or on the other side of the coin show that the officer was abusive."

But there's one thing stopping many departments.

"The reason we haven't gone forward with the project is pretty simple; money. And technology costs a lot of money."

That's why lawmakers are proposing a new idea to help law enforcement agencies pay for the cameras. The bill would tack a $6 surcharge onto fines for crimes and traffic offenses. The money would be split between the camera fund and the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board. But not all Illinois residents are on board.

"So I don't think just the people paying that commit the crime should pay the six dollars."

East St. Louis resident James Green says everyone should be footing this bill.

"Everybody's going reap from it so at the same time that's what I think."

Green says a bill like this should be paid for by everyone because it benefits everyone.

"It's going to benefit the state of Illinois, everybody that lives in the state of Illinois is going to benefit from the news or the camera."

Lawmakers hope the bill moves in the post-election veto session. They also say the fines would bring in $4- to $6-million annually.

Some law enforcement in the area already use body cameras. DeWitt County has been using them for nearly a year. Rantoul Police will be hitting the streets with their cameras soon and several other departments in the area are considering using the same kind.
Update: 4:52 pm, 9/12/14, Friday
ILLINOIS -- A proposal to pay for body cameras for law enforcement use isn't sitting well with everyone. Lawmakers want those who commit a crime to pay a higher fine which would help fund the expense.

Lawmakers proposed a new idea to help law enforcement agencies purchase the cameras. The bill would tack a $6 surcharge to fines for crimes and traffic offenses.

The money would be split between the camera fund and the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB). Local police departments support the idea, but one resident thinks everyone in the state should pay for the cameras.

The sponsor of the bill, Representative Jehan Gordon Booth says she estimates the fines would bring in $4 - $6 million annually. Three dollars would go toward the camera grants, while the other three dollars would support the ILETSB.

DeWitt County has been using its body cameras for nearly a year, while Rantoul police will be hitting the streets with cameras pretty soon. Other departments in Central Illinois are also considering the idea.
Original: 5:56 pm, 9/3/14, Wednesday
SPRINGFIELD -- More and more police departments are using body cameras. The tool for officers could soon become a statewide rule. WCIA-3's Kelsey Gibbs reports several local departments are considering the tool.

One department is in Springfield. It's an idea which sits well with officers as well as the public.

"It's safe. It would definitely help."

Michael Burham is talking about the Springfield Police Department potentially getting body cameras.

"I mean, I've seen things where cops get away with stuff, with like a little bit too aggressive with the stops they make."

It's a proposal the department has been considering for awhile.

"What better way to get the story as you said than to see it first-hand from the eyes of an officer?"

Chief Kenny Winslow says his officers support the idea.

"I think it's good for the community. I think it's good as a whole. It's a new technology and we have to embrace it."

The public does too.

"It will be a great deal for the community that, you know, we got people out here that actually care because not all cops are bad."

Resident Mark Miller says, with incidents like the shooting death of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, the proposal sits well with him.

"I'm tired of the black-on-black crime. We're tired of the police brutality. We're just tired period. You have a lot of people that's really locked up because they didn't have no camera."

Winslow says right now, the main thing stopping his department is legislation and the cost of cameras for the city's 130+ patrol officers.

"The legislators might propose some legislation that would strictly prohibit the use of this type of equipment, so obviously, it's a huge purchase for us. It's something we're not going to jump into."

Springfield police would like to vote on the issue at the next council meeting. That way it could be part of the March 1 budget.

Springfield is not the only city considering body cameras. The DeWitt County Sheriff's Department already uses them. Rantoul hopes to use theirs in the next couple of weeks, plus Urbana city police and the Champaign County Sheriff's Department are also considering using the tool.

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