In the last five years, Cook County has gotten nearly $43 million from the U.S. Homeland Security Department for Project Shield, a program that’s supposed to equip all 128 suburbs countywide with state-of-the-art video cameras.
The aim: to provide immediate live video from police cars and other locations to a central command in case of terrorism or other emergency. Backers say that would let authorities move quickly to provide police and rescue workers with vital information.
But Project Shield remains dogged by problems, a Chicago Sun-Times/NBC5 investigation found. Already 36 percent over budget, the massive effort now isn’t expected to be fully operational until 2011 — three years late. Even then, it could be without a number of suburbs that opted out because of problems.
“I think the federal government has to investigate what’s happened with Project Shield so far and re-evaluate its effectiveness,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), a former Cook County commissioner who’s asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate. “And if it decides it is not working, it’s going to have to start over, with someone else overseeing the entire project.”