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Prairie Grove Police Department to begin using body cameras

The Prairie Grove Police Department is set to receive four body cameras later this year.

The village will pay Ultra Strobe in Crystal Lake $21,064, and be reimbursed the money by the state. The funds will be used to install new video cameras in all four police cars, along with the four body cameras that officers now will wear.

According to a village memorandum, the grant also covers the necessary recording system.

The department will receive the money from the Illinois Training Standards Board, which offers yearly grants for body cameras and squad car cameras.

This is the first time the department has applied for this grant, Police Chief Tony Colatorti said.

Colatorti said the department currently has cameras in its cars, but they were donated from another department and were coming into “their end of life.”

“After discussion, we decided that we’d rather add on body cameras along with them, so we decided to try for the grants,” he said. “We don’t have the money for brand-new cameras right now, [so] we were fortunate and got picked for the grant.”

When officers are on the street, car cameras “only cover so much,” Colatorti said.

“If we’re talking to somebody or we’re doing [driving under the influence] stops, the body camera’s going to show a lot better view of what the car camera will,” he said. “With the car camera, you may not see the stumbling or the weaving. With a body camera, you’re this close. You’re going to actually see what the officer sees.”

Village Administrator Mike Freese agreed.

“A lot of times [when] we’re on the scene, the car camera does not cover what needs to be seen,” Freese said. “And the body cameras – wherever we go, they go.”

Freese said the grant covers the equipment, not the installation of the cameras. The department has enough in its budget to cover the installation of the cameras, he said.

“We think this is a tremendous thing,” Freese said. “Car cameras we’ve had for a little while. The officers like them, the courts like them. Body cameras are even better.”

In addition, Colatorti said if someone has a complaint about an officer, they will be able to review footage from the cameras and verify what happened.

Patrol officers will sign out cameras when they go on duty.

Colatorti said the department is hoping to get the cameras “active and going” by October.

The police department also is in the process of getting a new system that would let the records clerk get videos more promptly to the village prosecutor and state’s attorney when necessary, Freese said.

“We have had some issues with that in the past,” Freese said. “We think that is going to be a tremendous improvement of us.”

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