St. Clair County Sheriff supports body cameras for officers

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ST. CLAIR COUNTY, IL (KPLR) - The St. Clair County Sheriff hopes police departments across the state of Illinois will soon attach body cameras to the uniforms of their officers.  Rick Watson is also chairman of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board.

“We’re trying to create credibility with our people that we are here to serve and protect,” said Watson.

He is supporting legislation backed by State Senator Bill Haine (D) Alton and State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth (D) Peoria.  H.B. 3911 would impose a $6 surcharge on criminal and traffic offenses with the money going toward training and body cameras for officers.

“Everybody gets afraid because you’re on camera,” said Watson.  “If you’re doing the right thing, why be afraid?”

Critics of police body cameras have concerns over whether officers will be blamed if the camera malfunctions.   Some critics have questioned whether the cameras could in some situations violate a person’s privacy.

Watson believes the cameras will help weed out rogue officers who could taint an entire department.

“The 99.9% of the good law enforcement people always take the hit for the tenth of a percent,” said Watson.

If the legislation passes, Watson predicts departments could start receiving body cameras in 2015.  He said each department would need to come up with funding for a server used to store the information recorded by cameras.

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