Program will allow the department to evaluate policy and training associated with body-worn camera technology
Harrisburg, PA – Acting Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Commissioner Lieutenant Colonel Robert Evanchick announced this week that the department has deployed its first body-worn cameras in three troops as part of a pilot program. Select patrol troopers in Troop B, Uniontown; Troop J, Avondale; and Troop T, Somerset have received the appropriate training and will wear the cameras while on duty through the end of 2018.
“I am an ardent supporter of the use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement,” said Lieutenant Colonel Evanchick. “The real-world experiences and information learned through this pilot program will help the department fine-tune internal training, regulations, and processes to ensure the department is best prepared for wider implementation.”
Last summer, the Pennsylvania State Police was awarded a $52,000 federal grant to develop policy and training surrounding the use of body-worn cameras. The grant funds were used to purchase approximately 30 body-worn cameras for a pilot study. Since then, the department has developed an interim policy regulating equipment use, data storage, and duties and responsibilities related to the new technology. The policy was created with input from the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.
“Engaging stakeholders throughout the process empowers the State Police to use this important technology to benefit of all Pennsylvanians,” said Lieutenant Colonel Evanchick. “Backed by sound policy and training, body-worn cameras have the potential to not only increase public confidence in law enforcement but also serve as a valuable investigative resource.”
The interim policy, which is subject to change, is available to the public here.
The procedure for individuals to request the release of footage from law enforcement body-worn cameras was established by Act 22 of 2017 and is posted on the Pennsylvania State Police website.
The department is using body-worn cameras manufactured by WatchGuard Video for the pilot program, which is not intended to evaluate camera hardware. Any future purchases of body-worn camera hardware, storage, and infrastructure will be subject to established testing and purchasing requirements of the Pennsylvania State Police and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The significant cost of not only camera hardware but also data storage and bandwidth remain significant hurdles to widespread use of body-worn cameras within the Pennsylvania State Police, which has more than 4,300 enlisted members and patrols over 80 percent of the land area of the commonwealth. The department continues to explore all available funding options to help make department-wide use a reality.