ROUND LAKE PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- For more than eight months, police body cams at a northwest suburban department mistakenly recorded all the time, even as officers were taking bathroom breaks and involved in other non-essential police work.
Police body cams are supposed to automatically document what frontline officers see in the line of duty - interactions with civilians and suspects. But for the past eight and a half months in suburban Round Lake Park, the cameras never blinked. They were recording all the time, even when officers didn't know they were on.
Nobody has a good answer how it happened. But it has infuriated officers and their chief and has the manufacturer pointing a finger at them.
About one-third of all U.S. police departments now use body cameras, billed as the ultimate transparency and protection against police encounters that go bad.
But what happens when police body cameras go rogue, never turning off as they should, recording all the time, even as officers walk into the bathroom on their personal breaks?
This is a sample of what may have been thousands of hours of body cams worn by the 14 full-time patrol officers in north suburban Round Lake Park, where George Filenko is the renowned police chief. Filenko oversaw the murder-turned-suicide investigation of Fox Lake Lt. Joe Gliniewicz. And although this camera debacle is unrelated to that case, the body cameras were implemented about the same time the Gliniewicz case took place.
In a statement Monday, Filenko says the embarrassing videos were just discovered on Saturday, recording at all times, even when it was believed the cameras were off.
Cops were notified by this email sent over the weekend claiming all of the errant videos have now been cleared from the devices, although not before the I-Team was provided with some video.
The Texas company that makes the devices promotes a feature that allows officers to recapture evidentiary video even if they have forgotten to record and in a statement the company's president says, "this feature can be enabled or disabled by department administration." He says they are working closely with the leadership of the Round Lake Park Police Department to assist and support them as they investigate this incident."
Officers questioned by the I-Team say they did nothing to enable the constant recording and that they have no idea why the cameras were on all the time. Village of Round Lake Park officials say they are retaining legal counsel to conduct an independent investigation of what happened.