Body cameras getting closer to reality for Penn Hills police officers
Penn Hills police Chief Howard Burton expects soon to get something he's wanted for his officers for years: body cameras.
The municipal budget passed in December included $84,000 to purchase body cameras, nine laptops, four vehicle gun vaults and communications equipment. The bill for the body cameras for all 40 officers in the department would be about $50,000, Burton said.
The department received an $11,000 federal grant for cameras in 2016 and is waiting to hear whether it will get another $12,000 applied for in September through the same U.S. Department of Justice program.
“If we don't get it, we'll maybe buy a portion,” he said about the cameras.
Expanded use of body cameras by police departments nationwide started in early 2015 after an 18-year-old unarmed black man was shot and killed by a white officer in Ferguson, Mo., the summer before.
Burton said he's wanted his officers to wear the cameras since then but has had to wait for funding. He said the cameras are key elements for officers now.
“It's improved safety around the country,” he said. “These will help protect our officers by showing the public what kind of interactions police have on the streets … so they know we're doing the right thing. It's a plus for the public and the officers.”