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Zion residents want body cameras for police officers

April 22, 2015

ZION, Ill. (AP) — Residents of the northeastern Illinois city of Zion are calling on all of its officers to be equipped with body cameras following the police-involved shooting death of 17-year-old Justus Howell.

The Chicago Tribune (http://trib.in/1OFfLCW ) reports about 150 people attended a City Council meeting Tuesday in Zion, where more than two dozen members of the Zion-Benton Ministerial Association made the plea for body cameras.

Pastor Robert Williams of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, a member of the association, said the ministers also would like the city to hire a community liaison officer who can assist in communication between the police department and the community.

“We acknowledge the vital role that law enforcement plays in our community to serve and protect,” Williams said. “The timely release of information about the investigative process to the public helps dispel rumor and falsehood and we encourage that this practice continue with greater transparency.”

Mayor-elect Al Hill and new members of the City Council could consider the group’s proposal at the next meeting. Hill said he backs body cameras if there’s money for it, but said he hasn’t talked about it with the Zion police chief yet.

“In theory, yes I do (want them), but they cost a lot of money, and I’m going to have to look at that,” Hill said. “I would say we get as many as we can.”

Zion police have said Howell was involved in a scuffle while trying to steal a gun at a street sale, shortly before an officer shot him April 4. The coroner’s office has said Howell was shot twice in the back.

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim has asked the FBI to monitor and review the investigation of Howell’s death.


Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com