Every police officer in Illinois would be required to wear a body camera by 2025 as part of a massive criminal justice overhaul state lawmakers approved this month, but a lack of additional funding to help agencies pay for equipment and the absence of penalties for those that don’t raises questions about whether the legislation will achieve its ambitious goal.
Police groups voiced myriad criticisms of the overhaul package, advanced by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus as part of its response to the outcry that followed last year’s death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. The bill’s most controversial elements include eliminating cash bail beginning in 2023 and making it easier for people to file complaints against police officers.
The expanded use of body cameras, however, is one area where there appears to be some consensus among both police reform advocates and many in law enforcement. The reformers see body cameras as crucial tools for protecting civil rights and holding officers accountable. Many in law enforcement view them as another means of gathering evidence and a way to protect officers against unfounded accusations of misconduct.
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