The Rockford police chief and some city officials want to install video cameras in all 100 police cars. They think this will reduce the number of lawsuits filed against the city. In the last five years, Rockford has paid out more than five million dollars to settle about 40 lawsuits.
The chief said, "If cameras had been in those cars, we wouldn't have had to pay one dime. We're always pulling over drunks or drug users who try to fight the cops or shoot them. Then they always claim that the police started beating them first or started shooting at them first. What hogwash!
The cost of installing cameras will be about $500 per vehicle. The city council will vote on the proposal next Monday. Ten of the 13 council members, when asked about the proposal, said that they liked the idea. One member said that it makes good fiscal sense and common sense. If the cameras are approved, they can be installed in all the cars within six weeks.
The police officers enthusiastically support camera use. One officer said that too many people think the police are liars; cameras would show citizens that police tell the truth. "The money that we've been spending on lawsuits will be better spent on more cameras," said one officer.
Citizen reaction to the idea of police car cameras is mixed. One person said that the police should have started doing this years ago when video cameras were invented. But an elderly man said that cameras were an invasion of privacy. "These police are trying to stick their nose into everything," he said. He was going to attend the council meeting to condemn the proposal. He hoped that other citizens would join him.