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Allegheny

Pittsburgh police rolling out body cameras, chief to equip all officers 'ASAP'

Megan Guza
| Monday, March 12, 2018, 3:00 p.m.
Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Ed Trapp demonstrates how to use a body-worn camera.
Bob Bauder | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Ed Trapp demonstrates how to use a body-worn camera.

Some Pittsburgh police officers in the department's Zone 3 began wearing body cameras last month, and Chief Scott Schubert said he hopes to roll them out to the rest of the force as soon as possible.

"We have on hand probably over 600 cameras," Schubert said. "But this is not something like, 'OK, we're handing out 600 cameras to people.' They've got to be rolled out, and there are a lot of logistics involved."

The plan from here is to outfit officers in Zone 5 followed by Zones 1, 2, 4 and 6, in that order. Schubert said there is no true timeline for roll-out other than "as soon as possible."

All officers, including command staff, will wear them.

"Anybody that's in uniform will be wearing one," he said.

About 150 officers – members of bicycle and motorcycle patrols, as well as officers who volunteered for a pilot program – had already been wearing the cameras while on duty.

Police across Pennsylvania have been hesitant in terms of equipping officers with body cameras because of a state wiretap law that prohibited filming inside a residence without the owner's permission. The state Senate last year, however, amended the law, clearing the way for police to wear the cameras inside homes.

Officers working out of the Zone 3 station in Pittsburgh's Allentown neighborhood are continuing to train in the cameras' use, Schubert said. Beyond just using the cameras, they must be trained in how to use the docking stations, which will charge the cameras and download the stored footage from that shift.

"That takes time," Schubert said of the training.

The bureau is also working on an updated body camera policy now that all officers will be wearing them. Schubert declined to go into detail on the policy because it is still being reviewed. He said the policy will be posted on the city's website once he signs off on the revision.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

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