In Cook County, Ill., $34 million in federal Homeland Security funds is allowing county officials to install a new system allowing greater video and communications capabilities for public safety officers. The system will permit officers in 128 municipalities and Chicago to access video from government cameras affixed on traffic lights and poles as well as cameras in police and fire vehicles.Access might also extend to private cameras in banks and parking lots.

Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, notes that video cameras can help track offenders, but "the potential for abuse" exists.

Cook County is using off-the-shelf technology for its communications plan, enabling police, fire, and paramedics to talk to each other using Internet technology regardless of which radio gear they use. Such technology ensures that data is encrypted and sent securely to authorized staff only.

During a demonstration of the technology last year at the U.S. Open golf tournament at Olympia Fields Country Club, the system sent "high-resolution video" footage to police stations in Olympia Fields and Maywood and to the sheriff's command van, according to Dudley Donelson, deputy of Cathy Maras O'Leary, Cook County's CIO and architect of the advanced information system. Officers on foot and bicycle were also able to see the videos using hand-held devices.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Chicago Tribune (07/11/04) P. C1; Van, Jon.