By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — The city’s police officers will begin wearing body cameras in one week, an initiative that rose out of calls for police reform a year ago.
Protesters who marched in the city starting after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020 had called for body cameras as part of several changes they wanted in Rockford’s police department. Officers prefer the cameras, too, police brass have said, because they say the footage often helps exonerate police after complaints.
The cameras will be worn starting Oct. 25, after officers have undergone roughly 600 hours in training, the city said.
“Nationwide, the use of body-worn cameras has become a best practice for police departments. Law enforcement agencies are using body-worn cameras in different ways, including improvements in evidence collection, strengthening officer performance and accountability, enhancing transparency, better documentation of encounters between the police and the public, and assisting in the investigation of complaints,” the city said Monday in a news release. “Studies have shown that the presence of a body-worn camera has a positive effect on the behavior of both officers and citizens during encounters.”
The city agreed in May to spend $3.4 million with Scottsdale, Arizona-based Axon Enterprise for 320 body cameras and 120 dashboard cameras, which are being replaced over time.
Learn more about body cams
The city is hosting three public information sessions about how the cameras will be used by officers. The sessions are scheduled as follows:
- 10 a.m. Tuesday at Katie’s Cup, 502 Seventh St.
- 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Beth Eden Methodist Church, 3201 Huffman Blvd.
- 6 p.m. Oct. 26 at Empowering Word Christian Center, 4010 E. State St.