Penn State Police Now Equipped With Body Cameras
Penn State police officers are now equipped with body-worn cameras in an effort to increase transparency and accountability within the department.
The body cameras come as part of an initiative launched last year that focuses on police training, data, and policies. The campaign used data from Penn State’s 22 campuses to create initiatives, includind wearing body cameras, to strengthen the department and improve its relationship with the community.
“This important step builds on our ongoing efforts to cultivate a more trusting relationship with community members,” Charlie Noffsinger, associate vice president for Penn State University Police and Public Safety (UPPS), said. “Body-worn cameras contribute to officer accountability and give police and citizens another tool that contributes to better policing. While not a solution on their own, body-worn cameras can be used as a promising approach to improve interactions within communities when appropriate policy safeguards and training are in place.”
The body cameras are worn on the chest of an officer to record interactions with the public. They also record audio and save video footage for later review, if needed.
Footage will be retained for at least 180 days, which exceeds the 60-day recommendation from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
In June 2020, Penn State Police requested funding for body-worn cameras for approximately 150 officers, in addition to funds for storing video data, training, and operations.
All sworn police officers within UPPS are equipped with body cameras and serve at the following Penn State campuses: Abington, Altoona, Beaver, Berks, Brandywine, Dickinson Law, DuBois, Erie, Behrend, Fayette, Eberly, Greater Allegheny, Great Valley, Harrisburg, Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Schuylkill, Scranton, Shenango, Wilkes-Barre, York, and University Park.
“Appropriating funds for this initiative during fiscally challenging times triggered by a pandemic demonstrates that University leaders understand how important this equipment is to our officers and the Penn State community,” Sara Thorndike, senior vice president for finance and business, said. “Body-worn cameras support safety and accountability during police-citizen interactions and have strong support from the public as they demonstrate transparency in policing operations.”
The decision to implement body cameras is based on state laws and industry standards, development of an internal training bulletin, hosting hands-on training sessions for officers, and leading briefings with multiple university stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, and student groups.
For more information on the body-worn camera program, check out the department’s website.
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