Lititz, Pa (WHTM) – The world is watching police departments right now amid racial tensions.
Now the Lititz Borough Police Department is turning the watchful eye on itself.
Wednesday was the first day for the department have its officers wear body cameras.
Lititz Borough Police Chief, Kerry Nye, told ABC 27 News the decision to have his officers wear cameras wasn’t a knee jerk reaction to any event.
“We had budgeted for them in 2018 for 2019,” he explained. “We had planned to have it earlier in this year but with COVID-19 the manufacturer was delayed.”
Nye said the cameras are required to be on every time an officer as an interaction with someone.
Nye said the footage is stored to a server every time an officer comes back to the station, but he said footage is only seen if someone is arrested.
“It’s (a matter of) transparency and it keeps everyone honest,” Nye said. “The officer knows he’s being recorded and the person we’re dealing with is being recorded.”
The cameras cost $15,000 for every officer to have one. Nye said half of the cost to pay for the cameras was paid by the state and the other half was paid for by the borough.
While the timing of the roll out is a coincidence they’re rolling out at a time when there have been protests in Lititz, and across the country, to end police brutality and systematic racism.
Savannah Thorpe has been part of the protests in Lititz.
“We tried to put a technology band-aid on very systemic problem and that’s not going to solve police brutality at all,” Thope told ABC 27 News.
Thorpe believes the money to pay for the cameras could have gone elsewhere.
“The money that would have gone to those body cameras to those nonviolent situations we call the police on like homelessness and substance use disorder,” she said.
Nye maintains the cameras provide protection to everyone.
“Sometimes officers may over react and other people may over react,” he said. “It keeps everyone on a level playing field.”
The Lititz Borough Police Department is the fifth department in Lancaster County to use body cameras. The other police departments that use body cameras include Lancaster City, Manheim, Strasburg, and Northern Lancaster County Regional Police.
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