HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Colonel Christopher Paris has announced the start of a pilot program that has been designed to help departments become ready for implementing body-worn cameras.
Troopers assigned to Carlisle-based Troop H will wear the cameras while they are on duty. To reduce costs associated with the program, 18 cameras will be passed between troopers during shift changes.
This trial run will last for 60 days and will allow the department to find best practices and policies for wearing the cameras. It also will allow the identification of any additional equipment that may be needed as well as software issues.
State Police plans to have body-worn cameras in all of its 87 patrol stations.
“The public rightfully expects their interactions with police to be safe, respectful, and constitutional, and I believe the use of body-worn cameras demonstrates that the Pennsylvania State Police is committed to providing faithful and honest law enforcement services,” said Paris. “In addition to providing transparency and accountability, body-worn cameras document evidence in criminal cases and present opportunities to enhance training, just like the mobile video recording cameras we began using in patrol cars two decades ago,” he added.
The body cameras are a result of a five-year contract with Arizona-based Axon to provide body-worn cameras. State Police say Carlisle was selected as the test location, due to its geographic area being representative of the communities based by State Police.
This is also due to the State Police’s Bureau of Communications and Info Systems, being based near Harrisburg. The Bureau is in charge of overseeing the program, according to PSP.
Some argue Pennsylvania State Police is late to the game and behind many other departments in many other states, including many local agencies in Pennsylvania, which have long been outfitted with cameras. Paris says equipping a big force like the State Police is a much bigger challenge.
“I would say it was not a day late or a dollar short,” said Paris.
Troopers with cameras will have to push a button to start recording.
“I think it makes a trooper better utilizing these tools to document what’s going on, we welcome that scrutiny,” said Paris.
In June, a State Police Trooper shot and killed 18-year-old Anthony Allegrini Jr. while responding to a large crowd watching illegal street racing on I-95 in Philadelphia.
“Had there been a body cam in this case, there would be clear-cut evidence of the body camera of what exactly took place,” said Enrique Latoison, the attorney representing the Allegrini family.
“They’re still seeking justice and they’re still seeking accountability and transparency; now how transparent can you be when there are no body cameras?, said Latoison.