After Several Years, Scranton, Pa.’s Body Cameras Will Go Live in October

The officer-worn cameras come on the heels of other big-ticket public safety technology investments of late.

by Jim Lockwood, The Times-Tribune / June 19, 2018
David Kidd/Government Technology

(TNS) — SCRANTON, Pa. — The city Police Department may have body cameras in operation by early October, Police Chief Carl Graziano said Monday.

They will be the latest upgrade for the department. In March, dashboard cameras on police vehicles went into use, followed in May by implementation of a new records management system, he said.

The plan for body cameras has been in the works for a few years.

City council on Monday unanimously introduced legislation from Mayor Bill Courtright for the city to execute a five-year, $363,835 contract with Axon Enterprise Inc. of Scottsdale, Arizona, for the purchase and servicing of 110 body cameras.

The contract will cost $189,307 the first year, and then $43,632 for each of the second, third, fourth and fifth years.

In 2016, the city received a $94,268 federal grant toward outfitting the Police Department’s patrol division with body cameras. The department has a total of 147 officers.

City council voted 5-0 — with President Pat Rogan, Tim Perry, Wayne Evans, Bill Gaughan and Kyle Donahue all in favor — to introduce the resolution approving the contract. It will come up for a vote on adoption at council’s meeting June 25 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Officers will activate their body cameras during any calls to which they respond, Graziano said.

The body cameras will be integrated with the dashboard cameras, also called mobile video recorders or MVRs, such that both will record simultaneously, Graziano said.

The body cameras also will be integrated with officers’ guns. When a weapon is pulled from a holster, the officer’s body camera will turn on automatically.

In this way, an officer will not have to think about activating a body camera before pulling a weapon out of a holster, the chief said.

The cameras will be worn on the shoulder or in the middle of the chest. At the end of a shift, an officer will dock the camera into a docking station and transfer footage to cloud-based storage.

Body cameras will protect both officers and citizens, council members said.

“These body cameras will protect our police officers from being falsely accused and it will also protect the residents if there is an incident where a police officer does something that’s inappropriate,” Rogan said.

“These body cameras will help keep everyone accountable,” Gaughan said.

The Blakely Police Department debuted body cameras in March 2017 and began using dash cameras several years earlier.

©2018 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.