The Chicago Ridge Village Board recently gave Police Chief Rob Pyznarski the “go-ahead” to start pricing dashboard cameras to be installed in village patrol cars.
Pyznarski made the request during the board’s Dec. 20 meeting. He estimated that the cost of the cameras could end up being anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000. However, he said that none of the cost would be borne by local taxpayers.
The chief said that the camera program, which would include audio equipment as well, qualifies for the cost to be paid for out of the funds the department receives from other sources.
“Because it involves equipment improvements, we can use the funds we are allocated from asset forfeiture programs involving crimes connected to narcotics and money laundering,” he explained.
Illinois state police cars are required to have dashboard cameras with audio capabilities installed, but municipalities are not required to do so. However, the board agreed with Pyznarski that they are beneficial.
“Overall, it is for the protection of the police and the citizenry,” said Pyznarski.
“They will be there for the benefit of the police as much as the public,” added Mayor Chuck Tokar. He pointed out that a lot of accusations are made against the police, and having video footage can solve a lot of disputes.
Pyznarski said that it has not been decided yet whether all 14 squad cars should be equipped with the cameras. Cost may be a deciding factor. He also pointed out that once a camera has been installed in a car, the vehicle cannot be taken out on patrol unless the equipment is operational because having non-working cameras would be problematic.
“With your permission, we will start the process of comparing the options available and soliciting for bids. We will then come back to you with the top three choices for your final approval. We will get it done as soon as possible, but it could be closer to February,” he said.
Pyznarski noted that the camera program will take up some work by staff, who will have to review the footage recorded. The recordings will also have to be stored for a certain period of time.
At previous meetings, the police chief has also discussed the pros and cons of body cameras, which are also being used by some departments. But he said on Dec. 20 that their use is more complicated than dash cams, and the department is waiting for various legal issues to be ironed out at the state level before seriously considering them.