The Pittsburgh Police Department and its officers have already been equipped with body cameras, but have plans to expand upon the safety measure in 2019. Going into the new year, there are plans to have every officer trained and equipped with a body camera, said Chris Togneri, Public Information Officer for the city of Pittsburgh’s Public Safety Department.
“The goal is to have essentially everyone fitted with body cams by the end of 2019,” Togneri said. “Police Chief Scott Schubert is already wearing one and he wears it to show everyone else and set the example.”
The process of having officers wearing body cameras has been ongoing for several years, according to Togneri. It started with having officers on motorcycles with helmet cameras, but, in today’s society it has become a necessity for all officers to use the technology. According to some academic studies, police-worn body cameras reduces the use of force and complaints filed against police officers. By having officers equipped with body cameras, it “puts people on their best behavior,” Togneri said.
Togneri said equipping all officers with the cameras is an act of cooperation with residents of the city.
“This is something that the city of Pittsburgh residents want as well. It promotes transparency. When there is video of an encounter and we get to review it, it is a wonderful investigative tool,” Togneri said. “Studies have shown that when an officer is wearing a body cam, complaints against officers go down.”
Togneri said the cameras are a useful aid to investigation and ensure the safety of Pittsburgh residents.
“This is not an exclusive tool, it’s another tool,” Togneri said. “We believe it’s paid off because the public likes that we’re wearing them, it promotes transparency and it should result in greater safety for everyone involved.
In addition to the technology of the body cameras that will be equipped on all officers by next year, Togneri said the department is currently in a “testing phase” for a device connected to officers’ holsters that activates the camera to begin recording when a firearm is drawn.
To ensure the highest level of effectiveness, officers are required to go through a training process for the body cameras. In training, the officers learn about the new technology and how it works. Recruits in the police academy are also going to be training with body cameras, according to Togneri, so they will also be familiar with the technology and used to wearing it on duty.