A plan to equip Naperville police officers with body-worn cameras next year has led to the creation of a new position in information technology focused on implementing and supporting the program.
The body camera mandate outlined in the state’s new criminal justice reform legislation goes into effect on January 1, 2023 for Naperville officials, a deadline set based on the city’s population. But implementing the technology requires significant preparation to “ensure low risk, high quality and on-time delivery,” said IT Director Jacqueline Nguyen.
To help guide the process, Naperville City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved hiring a full-time public safety network administrator whose responsibilities would focus on supporting the body camera program and other police-related initiatives.
Officials initially budgeted for this position in 2022, Nguyen said, but later called for speeding up the hiring process until this month to “allow for active participation from the start of the program.” Lack of early focus can affect the overall timing or quality of the body camera project, he said.
“When (technologies) are first introduced to officers, especially in such a short period of time, it’s important that (they) feel comfortable with the technology, that it works smoothly, that it works safely, and that they have a positive perception “. dit.
A chronology presented to the council calls for on-site testing, information gathering and technology evaluation over the next few months before submitting a call for proposals later this year. Supplier selection and contract negotiations are expected to take place early next year, followed by testing, training and implementation processes.
The goal is to become operational in the third quarter of 2022, Nguyen said.
The police department anticipates an increase in resources needed to review video footage from 177 body cameras, respond to requests for freedom of information, and meet all state requirements, Police Chief Robert Marshall said. Hiring a network administrator is crucial to managing the technical components of the program, he said.
“It’s huge. It’s very important,” Marshall said. “This is a very complex project that requires the collaboration of (several) departments.”
According to a note from Nguyen, the annual salary and benefits for the new function is estimated at $ 121,106. Staff members are confident that the partial cost of creating the position ahead of schedule can be absorbed in the 2021 budget, he said.
Some board members, including Patty Gustin and Paul Hinterlong, wondered if it would be more cost-effective to hire a consultant to complete the work. But Nguyen stressed the need for long-term support and coherence as public security programs evolve.
The network administrator will be responsible for implementing and maintaining any network training, storage, platform, security, and technique required for the body camera program. Looking to the future, he said, the employee is expected to have a hand in the upcoming replacement of the patrol vehicle cameras, “which has high interdependencies with the initiative of the cameras carried by the body.”
“There needs to be an opportunity for this (member) staff to basically maintain the continuity of all technologies in the field of public safety,” Nguyen said.
City officials said they are exploring grants and other possible cost savings in hopes of easing the financial burden of the body camera program.