The Winnebago/Boone County Integrity Task Force continues to investigate the deaths of Officer Jaimie Cox and Eddie Patterson. However, the lack of video evidence is preventing progress.
Officer Cox didn’t have a body camera and his squad car wasn’t equipped with a dash cam. 24 Rockford Police cars out of 105 on the force are equipped with dashboard cameras, but Cox’s squad car wasn’t one of them. The fact that 75% of cop cars don’t have dashboard cameras has sparked many questions. Mayor Tom McNamara says this is an issue that won’t last for long.
“Prior to this incident taking place, months ago, as you have often heard me say, we need at least 50 new police vehicles,” said McNamara. “All of those vehicles would come with dash cams.”
The arrival of the new cars has yet to be determined. Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea says it would not be financially sound to add the $5,000 – $6,000 dash cameras to cars already in service, but getting the new equipment is still a priority.
“They haven’t, at this point, in trying to backspin money to outfit a car that’s going to be taken out of service within six months to a year when we get new ones,” said O’Shea. “It’s not cost effective.”
When those cameras are installed and the police vehicles leave the lot to go out on patrol, Ald. Kevin Frost (R-4th Ward) says the dash cam will prove to be an asset. He says the technology will provide objective information for any type of investigation.
“Anytime that anyone involved with a police or criminal investigation, whether it be the prosecutors, the police, the defense attorneys, [and] the public defender, [they’ll] have access to more information,” said Frost.
The other police agencies in the area, such as the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department and the Loves Park Police Department, have most of their cars outfitted with cameras.