CHICAGO – Will cops in Chicago and other places be disciplined for inappropriate comments made during “hot-mic” moments now that law enforcement agencies are going to body cams en-masse?
That question is being asked in Chicago.
The head of the union representing thousands of Chicago’s rank-and-file police officers on Thursday said he was caught off guard this week by the announcement that every patrol officer in the city will be equipped with body cameras by the end of 2017 — a year ahead of schedule, reported the Chicago Tribune.
Dean Angelo Sr., president of the Fraternal Order of Police’s Lodge 7, said his office had only a single meeting with police brass in the past year to discuss implementation of the recording devices, despite a prior written agreement stating both sides would meet to discuss how the body cameras would be rolled out.
On Wednesday, the police department, along with the mayor’s office, announced a plan to equip several thousand patrol officers with body cameras by late 2017, something that could offer a closer look at interactions between cops and citizens.
“I was made aware of it through an email that one of my (FOP) board members sent me. I didn’t get a call (from the department), didn’t get a heads-up,” Angelo said.
Angelo said they do not oppose using body cameras, but he indicated officers want to make sure they had time to get acclimated to the new recording devices without the threat of discipline from the department for any rude or inappropriate private conversations caught on a hot-mic.
“We wanted to be part of this (planning) process so that non-duty-related conversations between you and I about someone walking down the street, or what was said at roll call, or about who our boss and what their experience — or lack thereof — may be (isn’t) … something that we wind up getting considered for discipline on,” Angelo said. “Those are conversations between you and I, and it’s our opinion.”
On Wednesday, District Cmdr. Marc Buslik told reporters that the department would not seek to punish officers who are recorded using “colorful language.”
“It’s not unusual for language to get colorful in encounters, and officers were concerned about being held accountable,” said Buslik, who was instrumental implementing body cameras as a pilot program.
“I certainly prefer them not to use that colorful language, but because of the fact that it was caught on video … we’re not going to use that kind of thing as a disciplinary issue. That’s a training issue,” Buslik said.