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John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police
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Mar 31

Police department to start body-worn camera program

Posted on March 31, 2020 at 10:16 AM 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 email me call me at 412-221-2170.

Professionally,

John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police
South Fayette Township

Comments

sandra schidlmeier
March 31, 2020 at 12:28 PM
I'm so proud of our police department. I often see them driving around my neighborhood and know they are here to risk their lives to protect us. It's great that the officers have the body cameras now. I feel they are such an important item for the police to use. I want all the police officers to stay safe and healthy because all of us need you very much!

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