Evaluation of the Chicago Police Department’s Random Reviews of Body-Worn Camera Recordings

The Public Safety Section of the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a compliance evaluation of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD or the Department) review of randomly selected body-worn camera (BWC) recordings. Under Special Order S03-14 (the Special Order), the directive outlining BWC policy and procedures, CPD requires watch operations lieutenants (WOLs), across all watches, to review one recording daily. The purpose of these required reviews is for CPD supervisors to assess, among other areas, whether certain Department members are properly using BWCs and conducting themselves in accordance with CPD policy.

OIG’s evaluation determined that CPD did not comply with this requirement. Specifically, OIG found that:

  1. CPD failed to complete all required random WOL reviews from November 2017 through March 2018 in seven districts reviewed by OIG;
  2. CPD failed to implement a standardized process for randomly selecting BWC recordings for review;
  3. CPD failed to effectively monitor compliance with its random WOL review requirement, using definitions of compliance that are inconsistent and that do not allow CPD to determine whether WOLs are conducting randomized reviews in accordance with the Special Order; and
  4. CPD’s BWC Program Evaluation Committee (the Committee), which is tasked with ensuring BWC policy compliance with evaluating BWC program effectiveness, did not hold quarterly meetings in the third or fourth quarters of 2017, as required by the Special Order.

To address these issues, OIG recommends several steps CPD should take to ensure that WOLs conduct random reviews in full compliance with Department policy, including assessing the impact of corrective measures taken by the Committee, standardizing the random review process, and developing an effective method for monitoring compliance. In addition, OIG recommends that the Committee hold regular meetings featuring timely and complete reporting on random reviews.

In response to our findings and recommendations, CPD acknowledged the need to improve compliance and identified steps it has taken or is planning to take to address all of OIG’s recommendations. These steps include evaluating the implementation of the policy, automating aspects of the random review process for standardization and monitoring, and ensuring the Committee fulfills its oversight role.

While OIG is encouraged by the steps CPD has identified to improve compliance, OIG notes that CPD did not provide a timeline for implementing the automation of its random review process. Until the implementation of this solution, the effectiveness of random reviews and the Committee’s ability to perform its role may continue to be compromised.