horizonal graphic

UIC News Tips
University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456, www.uic.edu/depts/paff

June 8, 2000 Contact: Bryant Payne, (312) 355-2523, bpayne2@uic.edu


A number of northern Illinois law enforcement agencies have followed a national trend and have begun to install in-car-video (ICV) technology in police squad cars. Jess Maghan, associate professor of criminal justice, and Gregory O'Reilly, adjunct professor of criminal justice, both at the University of Illinois at Chicago, have compiled research on the benefits and the contentious issues surrounding the technology's introduction, including possible resistance to change by police officers.

"The immediate challenge for police departments will be to overcome institutional resistance and operational difficulties, and to integrate this new technology with other technological tools available to their patrol officers," said Maghan. "The success of an ICV program may depend on how well police departments assure their officers that the system is a useful police tool that can protect them from frivolous claims of abuse, and train officers in the use and benefits of the new video systems."

Most ICV systems are activated with the squad car's emergency lights or can be activated manually to record police emergency incidents. The cameras are equipped with a wide-angle lens to record both traffic and any activity around the car. A wireless microphone worn by an officer records the conversation. The system relies on a VCR, but officers cannot erase or record over a tape. The VCR and tape are kept in a locked box in the trunk to which only the officers' supervisor has access.

"Despite being told that the camera was installed for their benefit, many officers retained an attitude that its purpose was to spy on them," said Maghan. "Many officers adopted a paranoid, "Big Brother" is watching attitude and believed that the program showed a lack of faith in the street officers."

According to Maghan's research, the purpose of installing ICV was to get an accurate visual and audio record of enforcement-related activities to enhance criminal prosecution, limit police liability, reduce personnel complaints and assist officer training in the performance of their duties.

"Those facing change must adjust to the unknown, alter routines and adjust their behaviors," said Maghan. "They must do their job while bearing the responsibility of making new technology work. Their concerns must clearly be part of the equation in implementing change."

- UIC -

Copyright © 2000 University of Illinois at Chicago
Weekly Advisory Experts Guide News Bureau Staff News Tips Index News Bureau