The Evanston Police Department will ask aldermen Monday to approve applying for a federal grant to purchase body cameras for patrol officers.

The size of the potential grant is not mentioned in a memo to aldermen from Police Chief Richard Eddington, but he says “the bulk of the funds” needed for the new gear would be provided by the federal Bureau of Justice Administration through the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

He says city matching funds for the grant could be provided from an already-budgeted equipment account.

The body cameras, which are sold by firms including Taser International and Wolfcom Enterprises, are seen as a way to better document police interaction with civilians in the wake of controversies in several communities over police shooting incidents.

Eddington says that under terms of the grant program departments seeking the funds must partner with an academic institution to research the impact of the camera systems.

He says the department is reaching out to determine the potential interest of several potential academic partners.

Eddington says he believes body-worn cameras “will become the industry standard” for police, but that futher legislative action in Springfield to clarify their legal status likely will be needed before the program can be implemented. He says the application deadline for the grant program is March 9.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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