Yorkville working to equip police with body cameras

Officers expected to be wearing devices within a year

Yorkville Police Department badge

YORKVILLE – The officers of the Yorkville Police Department are expected to be equipped with body-worn cameras within a year.

Under state law, the department’s officers must be wearing the devices by Jan. 1, 2025.

The police administration and city aldermen are working on plans to include the cameras in the city’s next fiscal year budget, which begins May 1, 2022.

“Our goal is to implement the program in the next budget year,” police Chief Jim Jensen said.

Yorkville’s police officers are eager to have the cameras as part of their standard equipment, the chief said.

“All of our guys want them,” Jensen said. “It’s going to protect the officers.”

Deputy Chief of Field Operations Ray Mikolasek said the department has been investigating its options for obtaining the cameras, software and hardware.

The police department now has an authorized strength of 33 sworn officers.

To equip them all would cost about $148,000 over five years under a lease system, Mikolasek said.

Under the arrangement, damaged cameras would be replaced automatically and all the cameras would be upgraded with the latest models after three years, the deputy chief said.

If the city renews the lease at the end of the five-year term, the cameras would be replaced with newer models yet again, Mikolasek said.

The police department will be seeking a grant from the Illinois Law Enforcement Standards Training Board to help finance the lease deal, Mikolasek said.

Yorkville could expect to receive a reimbursement of about $29,000, based on the cost and number of cameras, Mikolasek said.

The body-worn cameras allow police to make audiovisual recordings of their interactions with the public. The recordings are stored in cloud-based servers.

Currently, Yorkville police vehicles are equipped with a video camera mounted from the interior ceiling and aimed through the windshield for a view forward.

Officers wear an audio microphone on their uniforms. A second camera in the vehicle monitors prisoners in the back seat.

The vehicle cameras are to remain in place and will be synchronized with the body-worn cameras, Mikolasek said.

The deputy chief recently made a presentation to the Yorkville City Council Public Safety Committee on plans for the cameras.

“It’s good for our officers and it’s good for the citizens of Yorkville,” said Alderman Dan Transier, the committee chairman.

The Public Safety Committee is expected to take up the plans for the cameras again in January.

Mikolasek said timing for implementing the camera system could be affected by the impending move of the city hall and police headquarters from the current site at 800 Game Farm Road to the building at 651 Prairie Pointe Dr.

The city is preparing to renovate the former office building and expects to be moving city offices and the police department into the structure late next year.