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Police Cruisers’ Vidcam Installs Begin Monday

SANATOGA PA – With installers ready to begin work Monday (July 27, 2015) on mounting video cameras inside four Lower Pottsgrove police cruisers, the Board of Commissioners has approved a new policy governing their use.

It’s been about a decade since the department last used in-car video systems, Chief Michael Foltz explained Thursday (July 23) after the board vote, and many things have changed since then. The camera systems are now miniaturized, wirelessly connected to computers, and automatically operated. The images themselves are much sharper and clearer.

Related:

Laws regarding police collection, usage and archiving of video footage have changed too. Foltz relied on a model policy provided by the International Association of Chiefs Of Police as a template to ensure Lower Pottsgrove’s met anticipated standards, and collaborated with attorneys in the office of Solicitor Robert Brant to tweak it.

“I recommend strongly that we put the policy in place,” board Vice President and Police Committee Chairman Stephen Klotz told his colleagues before the vote.

The policy:

  • Requires officers to be properly trained on the mobile video recorders before using them in the field;
  • Warns officers that audio recording inside an individual’s residence is not allowed due to restrictions of Pennsylvania’s wiretapping and electronic surveillance law;
  • Requires officers to be properly identified as law enforcers;
  • Deems camera use as mandatory on all vehicle or pedestrian stops, during all pursuits, during transport of any prisoner, and stops for probably cause;
  • Prohibits officers from tampering with, erasing, reusing or altering recordings; and
  • Outlines (in a total of 6 pages) other aspects of the system’s use, management, maintenance, and related officer responsibilities.

Foltz said the most recent total cost of the video installation for the first four cars is about $31,000. Four remaining cars in the department’s fleet are likely to be similarly outfitted during 2016, albeit at substantially lower expense because the initial purchase includes computer servers and software necessary for the system to operate.

He estimated the camera cost per car at about $4,500 each.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ July 23 meeting):

Photos from Google Images

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