Body Worn Cameras & Vehicle Cameras in use
In 2019, the Locust Township Police Department received a grant from the US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance as administered through Pennsylvania's Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to purchase Body Worn Cameras and to enhance our existing in vehicle cameras and storage capabilities of the captured video.
A robust policy was developed on the use of the cameras by the officers of the Locust Township Police Department. During the development phase, the policy was submitted to members of local media outlets; prosecutor, public defender and judicial offices in this area; school personnel; Columbia County Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB) and private industry partners. All were asked to review the proposed policy as it would apply to their respective agencies and interactions with this department. "The purpose of this policy is to provide the Locust Township Police Department officers with guidelines for the proper management, use and care of Body-Worn Cameras (BWC) and Mobile Video Recorders (MVR) and the security and retention of recorded media in accordance with applicable law."
With the grant program, the BJA provided Training and Technical Assistance guidance and a senior analyst to guide this department through the policy development, training of officers on the cameras applicable uses and the storage of the captured video. The policy adopted by this department has been posted on our website, www.locustpd.com (through Crime watch) and under the "Resources" tab. I have also attached the Policy file to this posting.
As per our policy; Officers must also be familiar with the Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronics Surveillance Control Act, Title 18, chapter 57. In 2017, an exception was made as to the expectation of privacy concerning law enforcement officers (Act 22). Officers can record any oral communication provided that:
a. The communication is made in the presence of a law enforcement officer,
b. The officer is on official duty,
c. The officer is in uniform or otherwise clearly identifiable as a law enforcement officer, and
d. The officer is using recording equipment approved under section 5706(b)(4) to record the communication that occurs in the course of law enforcement duties
I am sure many of you will have differences of opinion on officers wearing body cameras and privacy concerns with the cameras. I am always open for honest, open discussions on anyone's concerns with this department's use of body cameras. I am sure we have have some "bumps in the road" as we go through the implementation and use of body cameras in our jurisdiction.
Please contact me, Chief Allen L. Breach, should you wish to speak with me directly about our Body Camera Program. I can be reached at 570-799-5806 or via email at email@example.com.