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Body cameras in law enforcement are increasingly seen as one way to enhance local policing efforts.

But what’s the cost?

  Keith Taylor

During a recent executive management course, Sgt. Keith Taylor, of the Flossmoor Police Department, examined the implementation of body cameras in law enforcement. Taylor wrote a research paper on body cameras as part of his class work in Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command (SPSC). He graduated from the 10-week program in January.

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“It’s not so much the cost of the cameras,” Taylor said. “It’s more how you store the footage, whether you go to a Cloud-based system or a default computer. You also need to have someone in charge of the footage who is responsible for answering Freedom of Information Act requests. There are also questions about redaction.

“The costs can be steep.”

Taylor made a presentation on his research to his SPSC classmates. There were 41 members of his class, generally made up of the top officers in a number of local law enforcement agencies. Taylor said the Staff and Command program prefers that students have at least two years of supervisory experience. He has been a sergeant, and a shift commander, in the Flossmoor department since March 2013.

“This is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” he said. “It’s a very important accomplishment in my career.”

The program provides upper-level college instruction in a total of 27 core blocks of instruction and additional optional blocks during each session. Major topics of instruction include leadership, human resources, employee relations, organizational behavior, applied statistics, planning and policy development, budget and resource allocation.

Students met at the Homewood Police Department five days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Taylor said many of the instructors were themselves top law enforcement officials. The four-month program started in mid-September. Students rotated two weeks in class and two weeks back with their respective police departments over the course of the academic session.

Flossmoor Police Chief Michael Pulec said all current members of the department’s command staff are graduates of the SPSC program.

“The curriculum presented at the Northwestern School of Police Staff and Command is critical to the professional development of our future department leaders,” Pulec said. “Sgt. Taylor returns with newfound knowledge and commitment that will not only benefit the department but the Village of Flossmoor for years to come.”

Students in the program are “academically challenged through written examinations, projects, presentations and quizzes, in addition to a staff study paper,” Pulec said in a press release. “All are required parts of the curriculum.”

Upon graduation, students can earn up to six undergraduate units of credit from Northwestern, he said. Pulec said many SPSC graduates go on to leadership positions in their respective law enforcement agencies.

Taylor, who was born in Harvey and grew up in Hazel Crest, has been on the Flossmoor department for six years. Prior to that, he was with the Cook County Sheriff’s Police. He got his first law enforcement experience in the U.S. Navy, where he served in the military police. Taylor is currently working on a master’s degree in Public Safety Administration from Calumet College of St. Joseph, in Whiting, Ind.

There was a great deal of discussion during Staff and Command classes, Taylor said, adding that he enjoyed the give and take with other law enforcement professionals.

Asked if there was anything about the program that surprised him, Taylor said, “I was intrigued by resource allocation — about how departments properly allocate their officers, how they determine beats,” especially in larger departments. He said he was interested in how statistics were used, and all the details that go into staffing.

“It’s something I’d like to study further,” he said.


Photo by Tom Houlihan/HF Chronicle

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