Tag Archives: dashcam

Repair Records Indicate Widespread Dashcam Sabotage Among Chicago Police Officers

Repair records released by the Chicago Police Department show that the audio recording functionality no longer works on 80 percent of the department’s 850 dashcams and another 12 percent no longer have functioning video recording capabilities.

DNAinfo Chicago notes that CPD has attributed this problem “to operator error or in some cases intentional destruction.

The issue first caught investigators’ attention during a probe into the officer-involved, October 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. CPD Officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for his role in the shooting. In that incident, 3 of the CPD dashcams directed at the scene did not capture any video and none of them captured any audio.

[RELATED: Chicago Police Shooting Video Released, Officer Charged With First Degree Murder]

Officer Van Dyke himself was found to have demonstrated a pattern of behavior in which he repeatedly submitted his dashcam unit for lengthy, time-consuming repairs to what investigators characterized as “intentional damage.

Analysis of department-wide dashcam repair records found that the problem was widespread among officers.

Chicago Police Department officers stashed microphones in their squad car glove boxes. They pulled out batteries. Microphone antennas got busted or went missing. And sometimes, dashcam systems didn’t have any microphones at all,” according to DNAinfo Chicago.

Out of 22 officer-involved shooting investigations in the city in 2015, dashcam evidence had only been uploaded by police in 3 of the incidents.

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo blamed the dashcam malfunctions on CPD and the City of Chicago and questioned whether investigators have the capability to determine if such a device was disabled intentionally or accidentally. Also, some have blamed the issue on the fact that the warranty contract on the dashcams expired in 2012, and a new maintenance contract was not signed until Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel did so in 2014.

[RELATED: Chicago Police Union Stands By Officer Charged with First Degree Murder]

New York Magazine is reporting that CPD began to perform weekly audits of dashcam evidence and punishing officers for disabling their cameras in December of 2015.

Interim CPD Superintendent John J. Escalante, who took over after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired previous Superintendent Garry McCarthy last month, started off his reign atop the department by warning officers, “When you get into that car, test the in-car camera and the audio. Make sure it’s working. That’s your responsibility. If the system isn’t working and officers didn’t report it we are going to take disciplinary action.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said, “To boil this down, the Police Department will not tolerate officers maliciously destructing equipment. Supt. Escalante sent a very clear message and has held people accountable. And since we took that corrective action, we have seen a more than 70 percent increase in the amount of [dashcam evidence] uploads at the end of each tour … and that is being audited weekly with reports sent to the superintendent.

CPD’s complete dashcam repair logs can be seen below.

In December, Ben Swann raised questions in a CBS 46 Atlanta Reality Check report as to why it took over one year for the Chicago Police Department to bring murder charges against Officer Van Dyke. Watch that report in the video embedded below.


Sandra Bland Dashcam Footage Appears Edited, Texas DPS Denies Manipulating Footage

Dashcam video of the arrest of Sandra Bland, a woman who was found hanged in her jail cell, is raising even more questions about not only her death, but why Bland was arrested and brought to jail in the first place.

As we have reported, Bland’s death prompted an investigation launched by multiple agencies including the Waller County District Attorney’s Office, The Texas Ranger Division of the state’s Department of Safety and the FBI. Bland was found hanged in a cell at Waller County Jail July 12, where she had been held for three days after an arrest stemming from a traffic stop.

[RELATED: Law Enforcement, FBI Probing Prison Death Of Woman Hanged In Jail Cell]

In the dash-cam video, Bland is reportedly pulled over for failing to signal her lane change.  Bland is clearly aggravated when she is first pulled over. After the officer begins asking her questions about what is wrong, Bland argues with the officer. She also tells the officer that she is not required to say anything to him other than to identify herself.  It should be noted that Bland was correct and that she had no legal obligation to speak to the officer other than to identify herself.

The officer then tells Bland to put out her cigarette, which she refuses to do. Again, Bland is correct when she says that she is in her own vehicle and there is no legal requirement for her to put out the cigarette. But this doesn’t stop the officer from opening her door and demanding Bland exit the vehicle.  At one point he holds his taser at her yelling, “I will light you up if you don’t get out of the car.”

Multiple news agencies, including several local news stations and larger outlets such as NBC, CBS, The Guardian, Time, The Los Angeles Times and CNN, have pointed to several inconsistencies and anomalies within the video, posing the question of whether or not the video released by the Texas Department of Public Safety was edited.

Independent journalist Ben Norton provided several separate clips that appear to show disparities. In one of the clips, “a man leaves the truck in the center of the frame at 25:05. For the next 15 seconds, he walks toward the right of the frame and leaves. At 25:19, he suddenly appears again, promptly disappears, then returns at 25:22. The same footage of him walking is subsequently repeated”:

Norton offered another clip seen below. “This is 33:02-33:12 in the footage released by the Texas Department of Public Safety. A white car enters the frame and disappears twice, returning a third time,” Norton wrote.

“It appears that someone cut footage out and looped part of the video in order to correspond with the recorded audio of Texas state trooper Brian Encinia speaking,” Norton wrote.

[UPDATE: Texas DPS Replaces Original Dashcam Video Of Sandra Bland Arrest]

The Texas Department Of Safety denied that any editing took place. The video inconsistencies were “glitches in the recording” that “occurred when it was uploaded for public viewing,” according to DPS spokesman Tom Vinger.

Already in admitting wrongdoing, the Waller County Sheriff’s Department has acknowledged that traffic stop procedures and courtesy policies were violated. The officer in this video, identified as Brian Encinia, has been assigned to desk duty.

While Bland’s death was originally ruled as a suicide, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said that the inquiry “is being treated like a murder investigation.” Mathis noted, however, that “It is very much too early to make any kind of determination that this was a suicide or a murder because the investigations are not complete.”

Annabelle Bamforth contributed to this report.