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Chief's Corner

John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police
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Oct 14

Body-worn cameras now in use to protect citizens and police

Posted on October 14, 2020 at 8:26 AM by Andrea Iglar

This week, the South Fayette Township Police Department is beginning the use of body-worn cameras.

Each of our 20 police officers will be wearing a camera to provide an audiovisual record of interactions between citizens and officers.

There are many reasons I felt it necessary and beneficial to implement this program for our community.

Having our officers record their actions with the public not only ensures transparency but also protects everyone involved from undue scrutiny. Even though video recordings don’t always show the entire incident, they often can assist by showing the majority of an event in a fair, balanced manner.

National statistics have found that when officers and citizens know they are being recorded, both parties generally behave more politely and courteously. Also, serious incidents may deescalate when body-worn cameras are in use. This helps protect both citizens and police from any unnecessary injury or legal issues.

Officers normally will advise anyone they interact with that they are being recorded. Each of our officers has been trained to remain sensitive to the dignity of all individuals being recorded and to exercise discretion when privacy outweighs any legitimate law enforcement interests in recording.

It is the department’s intent to be transparent and accountable for our officers’ actions at all times. Our body-worn camera policy is designed to ensure that these objectives are met and followed by all members of the police department.

We obtained the body-worn camera equipment through a $19,000 matching grant from the federal Bureau of Justice, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The grant paid for half of the $38,000 program cost, which includes 25 cameras, officer training, a new server and other equipment.

We as a community must invest and work together to make South Fayette the best and safest community that we can be. This body-worn camera program is another step toward ensuring our township continues to grow in the right direction.

Professionally,

John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police
South Fayette Township

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