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Chicago Ridge cops to get body cameras

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By Dermot Connolly

The Chicago Ridge Police Department is moving ahead with plans to purchase body cameras for officers, something that has been under consideration for a few years.

Police Chief Jim Jarolimek told the Village Board at its March 21 meeting that the police department received a quote that day from Motorola to supply the body cameras for $160,100.

“It was considerably less than what we budgeted for. I think we budgeted for $230,000,” said the chief.

“That price is for five years, for unlimited cloud storage,” added Jarolimek.

He explained that the file storage plan would allow the department to keep all the audio and visual data for every case they handle together, including any recordings gathered from doorbell cameras and security cameras from all sources.

“I think (the price drop) is probably because of the laws that may be coming down,” said Jarolimek, referring to the Illinois SAFE-T Act and other state legislation that would require police to wear body cameras.

“Like we anticipated, the price kept going down, down, down, as the deadline got closer,” said Trustee Ed Kowalski.

Trustee Bill McFarland pointed out that there is an Illinois House bill “floating around” that would also require EMS personnel such as paramedics to wear cameras also.

Jarolimek said the police and fire departments may have to make separate arrangements regarding cameras because of differing security rules.

The chief said Worth Police Department officials told him they are considering getting cameras as well, perhaps by the fall, but Chicago Ridge expects to get the equipment sooner since the purchase is already approved and budgeted.

“Motorola told us, with all the training and everything, we should be rolling from the beginning to the end of May,” said Jarolimek.

“All our guys want it, especially with what is going on now. It protects the guys on the street,” he said.

“And the village, too,” said Mayor Chuck Tokar.

“And ultimately the village, absolutely,” agreed the chief.

In other police business, the board also agreed to purchase four speed radar detectors to be installed on posts around the village.

Jarolimek suggested buying them now, while a sale price of two for $6,199 is available. “They usually run between $3,500 and $4,000,” each, he explained.

“I would recommend we buy a couple, especially with the savings from body cameras,” said the chief.

When several trustees suggested buying four of the cameras while the price is low, the board unanimously agreed to do so.

“We have a lot of problems with speeders in town,” said Kowalski, asserting that that is the biggest complaint he gets from residents.

Jarolimek said Matt Rapaport, the department’s traffic coordinator, suggested installing one of the radar cameras on 103rd Street, “because people are inclined to speed there between Ridgeland and Southwest Highway.”

Other locations being considered are on 99th and 107th streets, close to parks often frequented by children playing games.

“They are effective,” said Jarolimek, noting that most drivers immediately slow down when they see their speed flashing as a warning. He said all the streets chosen for the signs are under village control, so IDOT does not need to be consulted.

At the request of Emergency Management Agency director Bryan Pudinoff, the board also unanimously approved the purchase of a 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe for $31,000 to replace a 2011 vehicle of the same type in the EMA fleet.

While selling the older vehicle as surplus property was on the agenda, the board reconsidered doing so after Trustee Elaine Davenport suggested keeping it if it was still in working order because it only has 56,000 miles on it.

Pudinoff said it has a sale value of about $6,500 and its EMA equipment has been removed. The board agreed to postpone a decision on selling the vehicle until the second meeting in April.

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