The release of a video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald may have exposed a nasty habit in the Chicago Police Department: officers purposely damaging their own dashcams to disable them, a report from DNAinfo shows.
The site first reported back in December that 80 percent of the department's 850 dashcams didn't record audio due to what the police department's own investigation called "operator error or in some cases intentional destruction."
They've since dug even deeper and obtained maintenance records for the police department's squad cars, which show that there were long delays in fixing busted dashcams, including in the car driven by officer Jason Van Dyke the night he shot and killed McDonald. Van Dyke is charged with murder in that case.
The investigation also found that records show Chicago officers "stashed microphones in their squad car glove boxes," and "pulled out batteries."
Van Dyke's own dashcam was busted for months before it was fixed in June of 2014, records show. A day later it was reportedly broken again, and wasn't fixed until October of that year. On the night of McDonald's shooting, Van Dyke's dashcam recorded video, but no audio.
In fact, on the night of McDonald's shooting, out of the five dashcam-equipped cop cars at the scene, only two recorded video, and out of those two, only one had a working microphone to capture audio.
It was only after the audio-free McDonald video came out that the department started paying attention to its screwed up dashcam situation. The department has since said it will not tolerate officers damaging their equipment, and several officers were given short suspensions.
Since then, the department says there has been a 70 percent increase in the amount of video uploaded after officers' shifts.