Bloomington Police are on the verge of a wide rollout of body cameras.
Police Chief Brendan Heffner said the department has been testing cameras with a small group of officers. They had trouble with failures on a previously considered model of camera.
"The people involved in testing them want them to work and be successful. But when you have something and you want to get footage for your report and it's not there, it's disappointing. We think we have worked that out. But, I always say with computers and everything else, there will be some glitches at times," said Heffner.
Heffner said body camera training will begin next week for the entire patrol division. It's still a pilot project, but Heffner said if the divisionwide test does well, the department will make the purchase before the end of the budget year.
"I wanted cameras that would work in conjunction with the lights in the squad car so when you activated the lights, the camera should come on. I also wanted cameras that would download once they came in proximity to the department," said Heffner.
He declined to identify the vendor, pending a successful outcome.
The amount budgeted for the cameras is about $600,000. The estimated life cycle of the purchase is four to five years.
Crime Rates Flat in 2017
Crime in Bloomington was down about 1 percent last year, though the four-year trend is down 30 percent.
Heffner said he was expecting declines to level off sooner or later. One significant exception, he said, is sexual assault reports, which rose 70 percent.
"Publicity in regard to the Weinstein case I'm sure played a part along with the #MeToo movement. When people see other people who have been victims like themselves and step forward, people come forward," said Heffner.
There were 73 sexual assaults reported in Bloomington last year.
"We don't have anybody out there. We don't have a serial rapist or anything like that. I feel that victims are feeling more comfortable about coming forward and reporting these cases than they were in the past," said Heffner.
Heffner said street-level gun violence dropped significantly last year, though most of it still involves hybrid gang activity.
Robberies were down 25 percent. Burglaries rose by 10 percent. Thefts fell 7 percent.
Here's a look at Bloomington's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) for 2013 through 2017. They are offenses that are reported to both the State Police and the FBI for every police department in the U.S.
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