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Find out what's happening in the blog. Below is a list of blog items.
Police department to start body-worn camera program
by Andrea Iglar
There is a trend nationally for law enforcement agencies to use body-worn cameras for a variety of good reasons. Police officers wear body cameras as a way to record the video and audio of events that occur when they are on the job. The goal is to capture evidence of the circumstances that occur rather than relying on potentially conflicting reports. Although the cameras don’t guarantee that every situation will be fully accounted for, they can provide valuable evidence about interactions between officers and citizens.
The South Fayette Township Police Department plans to start a body-worn camera program within the next year, thanks to a matching federal grant of $25,000 to purchase body cameras for each of our police officers. The grant, administered through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, is from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program.
Body-worn camera technology can improve how both police officers and citizens behave. Research has shown that both officers and citizens alike behave better when they know there is some level of accountability for their actions. From a law enforcement standpoint, body camera footage can be used as a training tool to assist officers in correcting their mistakes and observing positive encounters. In the same way that athletes study video of themselves to improve their sports performance, police officers can view footage to help enhance the performance of their duties. The end result is a more transparent agency.
A recent study found that body-worn cameras had reduced the number of public complaints against officers by as much as 90 percent. It also has been reported that use-of-force incidents dropped by 60 percent due to the use of body cameras. With fewer issues to investigate, there is less taxpayer money spent on fighting civil lawsuits and internal investigations, which means there is more money to serve and protect the people. As of 2013, approximately one-third of municipal police departments had implemented body cameras.
Most people like the idea of having another layer of accountability for police officers. Most officers are open to and support the use of body cameras because they improve citizen and officer behavior. For me, as your police chief, body-worn cameras provide safety for both my officers and the citizens they encounter. It also enhances my efforts to create accountability and transparency, which in turn helps us provide the best possible service to South Fayette Township.
This effort will help us continue to develop positive relationships between the police department and the community of South Fayette, keeping both officers and citizens safer.
We will be communicating more information about the body-worn camera program in the coming months. If you have any initial questions or concerns, please feel free to
call me at 412-221-2170.
John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police
South Fayette Township
Government services are essential during crisis
by Andrea Iglar
I hope this message finds you well.
The COVID-19 pandemic suddenly has changed all of our lives in dramatic ways, causing all of us to change our behavior. As a result, I would like to take this opportunity to comment on how the township has responded to this crisis while offering a bit of optimism to each of you.
It is undeniable that this pandemic has impacted our core services and challenged our ability to maintain service levels to the community.
The health of township employees, residents and the public in general remain our top priority. We are balancing ‘social distancing’ with service delivery and have had to make some extreme changes, including locking the doors of the township building, closing the senior center and library, and asking residents to use email, telephone, social media and the township website to contact us and stay informed.
Township staff who are able to work from home are doing so, and we have implemented heightened cleanliness protocols for vehicles and work spaces. It is likely that by the time this message reaches you, we will have refined and modified our operations even further.
What is critical to remember is that government services are essential services, and we will continue to serve the community during this time of crisis. The police department is well trained and has the resources and equipment to respond to just about any type of emergency. Our first responders are getting the supplies and resources they need to continue to serve.
In addition, the township will not lose sight of the many projects and initiatives we have planned for 2020. While our upcoming events and recreation programming have been suspended, the township will continue to plan for major park improvements, move forward with facility projects and explore creative ways to offer programs and services to the public.
South Fayette is a resilient community, and the township remains energized and prepared to accomplish great things in 2020.
John M. Barrett
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