A deeper look has found that 80 percent of the Chicago Police Department’s dashcam audio recording equipment in squad cars doesn’t work properly, or at all for that matter, as a result of “operator error or in some cases intentional destruction.”
A review of 1,800 police maintenance logs by DNAinfo found disturbing information about what it termed the “no-sound syndrome” which plagues the Chicago PD’s dashcam videos, including the city’s “most notorious dashcam case – the killing of Laquan McDonald.
Chicago Police Department officers stashed microphones in their squad car glove boxes. They pulled out batteries. Microphone antennas got busted or went missing. And sometimes, dashcam systems didn’t have any microphones at all, DNAinfo Chicago has learned.
According to maintenance records for the squad car being used by Jason Van Dyke, the officer responsible for shooting and killing McDonald, and his partner Joseph Walsh, had spent months being repeatedly repaired for damage that was deemed intentional.
In fact, after the dashcam recording equipment was initially repaired in 2014, a process that took about three months, it was reported broken the very next day after it was returned to the officers. After a review of 10 videos downloaded from the dashcam in Van Dyke’s squad car, police records said it was “apparent … that personnel have failed to sync the MICs [sic].”
Of the five police cars that were present when McDonald was shot, only two dashcams recorded video and all failed to record audio.
The Washington Post asks a very important question regarding the findings of the DNAinfo review:
This isn’t a few bad apples. It’s 80 percent. Why haven’t these officers been prosecuted?
The problem goes far beyond Chicago, as department’s across the country are seeing the same kind of sabotage to recording equipment. The Los Angeles Times reported a similar situation in California.
Los Angeles police officers tampered with voice recording equipment in dozens of patrol cars in an effort to avoid being monitored while on duty, according to records and interviews.”
“An inspection by Los Angeles Police Department investigators found about half of the estimated 80 cars in one South L.A. patrol division were missing antennas, which help capture what officers say in the field. The antennas in at least 10 more cars in nearby divisions had also been removed.
Activists have been pushing for dash cameras and body cameras to be mandatory for officers of the law, but with no way to ensure that they aren’t turned off and no consequences for officers who sabotage the recording equipment, they provide little oversight and accountability.
Featured image via Flickr