OIG Follow-Up Finds That the Chicago Police Department Has Partially Implemented Some Changes in Its Random Review Procedures for Body-Worn Camera Recordings

The Public Safety section of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed a follow-up to its July 2019 Evaluation of the Chicago Police Department’s Random Reviews of Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Recordings. Based on responses from the Chicago Police Department (CPD), OIG concludes that the Department has partially implemented corrective actions; it has yet to implement a standard review process for BWC footage, and hasn’t developed policies for appropriate supervisors to identify incidents which should have been captured on BWC footage but were not.

In its 2019 evaluation, OIG found that CPD did not comply with the requirements of its own policy for the random review of BWC videos by supervisors. Specifically, OIG found that CPD failed to complete all required random reviews from November 2017 through March 2018 in seven districts, failed to implement a standardized process for randomly selecting recordings for review, and did not provide guidance, standards, or training for supervisors responsible for those reviews. Furthermore, CPD’s BWC Program Evaluation Committee––tasked with ensuring compliance and evaluating the effectiveness of the Department’s BWC program––did not initially hold quarterly meetings as required. OIG made various recommendations to improve CPD’s program and policy compliance, to more fully realize the potential value of the BWC program, such as developing and implementing a standardized process to randomly select recordings for review. OIG also suggested improvements to the operations of CPD’s BWC Committee. In its 2019 response to OIG’s original recommendations, CPD acknowledged the need to improve compliance and identified steps it would take to address OIG’s recommendations.

Based on CPD’s response, OIG concludes that CPD has partially implemented corrective actions. There have been some efforts to improve the process by which BWC videos are randomly selected for review by a supervisor, but a new BWC review process and new randomization procedures have not yet been implemented. CPD reported that it piloted an application to facilitate a standard review process; only after doing so, however, did it assess and determine the application to be cost-prohibitive. CPD is currently working to develop an alternative. CPD has not developed policies or procedures for appropriate supervisors to identify incidents that should have been recorded but for which no video was recorded or uploaded. Finally, CPD reports that it is monitoring WOL review compliance through a monthly evaluation report, and that preservice training for new supervisors includes a section on the obligation to review randomly selected recordings. CPD’s BWC Committee has not maintained a regular or quarterly meeting schedule, but at the meetings that have taken place, Committee members have reviewed the most recent Quarterly Report and the Quarterly Report consistently covers the appropriate time periods. 

“Compliance with random reviews of body-worn camera recordings is imperative to internal accountability and outward-facing transparency,” said Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety Deborah Witzburg. “CPD agreed with our 2019 findings, but there still remains much work to be done. We encourage the Department to fully implement changes toward meaningful review and analysis of body-worn camera footage, and what it may capture and reveal about the practices of the Department and its members. If the footage they capture is not being reviewed appropriately, body-worn cameras are reduced to high-tech vest ornaments. Without meaningful analysis, CPD is missing critical transparency and accountability opportunities.”

The full report can be found online at OIG’s website: bit.ly/BWCFollowUp

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The mission of the independent and non-partisan City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to promote economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity by identifying corruption, waste, and mismanagement in City government. OIG is a watchdog for the taxpayers of the City and has jurisdiction to conduct investigations and audits into most aspects of City government. If you see corruption, fraud, or waste of any kind, we need to hear from you. For more information, visit our website at: www.igchicago.org.