Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Federal Report Faults County for Misusing Police Camera Funds

The Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security has released a report that is highly critical of Cook County officials for their misuse of federal funds that put faulty cameras in countless police squad cars.  Cook County had been given $45 million to implement “Project Shield.”  The idea behind “Project Shield” was to equip first responders with wireless cameras so they could quickly transmit images, messages and data in case of an emergency.  138 squad cars were equipped with wireless cameras that did not work and prevented the deployment of air bags in police cars.  Each camera cost $65,000.  In addition, Cook County paid $190,000 to Johnson Controls to make sure that the cameras worked.  Shortly after they were installed Chicago police informed suburban police agencies to not use the cameras.  The report found that the program was “ill-conceived, poorly designed and badly executed program that put the lives of emergency responders in danger.”  The report further found that Cook County officials did not adequately plan or manage the project to make sure that the equipment worked properly and could be operated in an emergency situation.  Many of the towns that were part of the program ended up returning the equipment and stopped participating in the project.

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