Police Body Cameras

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Some Pennsylvania State Police troopers are now wearing body cameras as part of a federally funded six-month pilot program. Select troopers from Troop B in Uniontown, Troop J in Avondale and Troop T in Somerset underwent special training before being deployed with the cameras.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

During a special Pittsburgh City Council meeting Tuesday, public safety officials called on Gov. Tom Wolf to sign legislation that would allow officers more latitude in using their body cameras.

Senate OKs Bill To Clear Way For More Police Body Cameras

May 10, 2017
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Legislation approved by the Pennsylvania state Senate on Wednesday seeks to clear legal hurdles for police departments to expand their officers' use of body cameras, and it gives departments the discretion to refuse public requests for copies of audio or video recordings by officers.

The bill, which passed 47-1 after brief comments on the Senate floor, would add Pennsylvania to a growing list of states that are setting statewide policy over the collection of audio and video by officers, including from dashboard and body cameras.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

Video footage from police dashboard and body cameras remains very difficult to obtain in Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court is currently considering what the rules for disclosure should be.

In a new survey of public records access in the state, dash cam videos were by far the least likely to be produced upon request.

Milwaukee saw a second night of unrest on Sunday following a fatal police shooting this weekend. Sunday's protests were smaller and less destructive than the previous night's, although some violence continued and one person was shot and wounded under unknown circumstances.

The weekend's demonstrations and rioting were prompted by the police killing of a 23-year-old black man, identified by police as Sylville Smith, on Saturday. Smith ran from police during a traffic stop. Police say he was carrying a gun.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Body cameras have a way of rapidly de-escalating situations, according to Chief Jeff Besong, the head of Point Park University's Department of Public Safety.

One of his officers recently approached a family in the midst of an argument on the Boulevard of the Allies, and the adult man in the group began swearing at him. As soon as the officer informed the man he was being recorded on a body camera, the profanity ceased, Besong said.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Nearly three hours of testimony on the use of police body cameras before a state House committee on Wednesday boiled down to three main issues: when to record, how much to release to the public and how long to retain the files.

Emma Lee / WHYY

 

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay can't be with all of his officers, all the time. While they're driving their beat, responding to calls and policing the city, they're on their own. Negative reports, either by the officers or about the officers, are often he-said, she-said cases.

But that could be changing. Pittsburgh is one of five cities in Pennsylvania that received federal Department of Justice funding to outfit their officers with body cameras. The small cameras, worn on the officer's uniform, record interactions between police officers and the community.