An audit of the Chicago Police Department has found that some 80% of its 850 dashcams do not record audio and 12% do not record video, with the CPD blaming the failures on “officer error” and “intentional destruction.”
DNAInfo Chicago found that officers had deliberately stashed microphones in glove boxes, pulled out batteries, destroyed cam antennae or removed the microphone from the units entirely. Cams that are destroyed reportedly take “months” to be fixed or replaced.
The dashcam of Jason Van Dyke, the officer charged with first-degree murder in the killing of teen LaQuan McDonald, was brought in in early 2014 because of a wiring problem, which wasn’t reported finished until three months later on June 17. The next day, the cam was reported broken again — due to what technicians deemed to be “intentional damage” — and it wasn’t fixed until October 8. Only 12 days later, that cam recorded Van Dyke pumping 16 bullets into McDonald as he walked away from police, but failed to capture any audio. Police records show that it was “apparent … that personnel failed to sync the MICs [sic]” to the camera.
This specific account shows how easily police misconduct can be swept under the rug. While body and dashcams are in no way a silver bullet in combatting killer cops, it’s unlikely that Van Dyke would have ever been charged without video of the shooting and its subsequent release to the public. Of the five squad cars present at McDonald’s death, four did not record audio, and only two recorded video.
Chicago Police Are Deliberately Damaging Their Dash Cams