By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara, on Monday, announced that he is taking the first step to outfit city police officers with body cameras.
“I signed the Mayoral Pledge from the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance to review, engage, report and reform common-sense limits on police use of force with feedback from the community, McNamara said. “I hear the concerns of our residents and want to take steps to ensure justice and equity for all in our community. I urge all municipalities and police departments in Winnebago County to join me in taking this important pledge.”
As part of the pledge, the mayor has directed city staff to issue a Request for Information (RFI) on body cameras for the Rockford Police Department.
“The RFI will be published within two weeks and will provide 30 days for companies to respond,” the mayor said. “The goal of the RFI is to gather information on all components needed for successful deployment and operation of body cameras – including products, software, implementation, data security and storage. I have also asked staff to encourage other local municipalities to join us in pursuing and implementing this critical technology. And, I’ve asked staff to begin researching grant opportunities to help fund this project.”
The mayor said he has also asked the appointed Community Relations Commission (CRC) to assist the city in our efforts to review the police department’s use-of-force policies in conjunction with aldermen, community stakeholders, and experts and to report back on their findings and recommendations.
“The 11-member CRC took office last fall,” McNamara said. “One of its functions is to review and recommend policies and ordinances that should be adopted by City Council. I’ve also asked our CRC to create a cost/benefit analysis of body camera implementation immediately.”
McNamara is planning listening sessions with leaders of the black community in the coming weeks. He said he will release more on those sessions Tuesday.
“The City Council will also be hosting additional listening sessions,” he said. “As mayor, it’s vital that I listen before I act to create change that will be the most impactful and sustainable. Improving racial justice and societal equity will not happen overnight. However, to create a better community, we must move with speed and purpose and we must engage all our residents. I have open ears and look forward to the conversations ahead.”