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Penn State Police to Implement Body Cameras ‘Within the Next Year’

by on June 30, 2020 12:34 PM

Penn State University Police and Public Safety will purchase body-worn cameras for all officers at its 22 campuses and equip police within the next year, the university announced Tuesday.

Following “extensive research” and a “thorough review,” the organization requested funding for body-worn cameras for approximately 150 officers. Additionally, it asked for funds for storing video data, training, and operations in its 2020-2021 budget request.

In Centre County, Penn State police and state police are the only departments that currently do not use body cameras. State College, Bellefonte, Ferguson Township, Patton Township and Spring Township police, as well as the Centre County Sheriff's Office, have all added body cameras over the past two years.

Penn State police hopes utilizing body cameras will allow its officers to be more transparent and accountable and build a stronger relationship with the communities they serve.

“As I’ve said before, we in the law enforcement profession can and must do everything in our power to do and be better and we can only do this while in close partnership with the communities we serve,” Police and Public Safety Assistant Vice President Charlie Noffsinger said. “Body-worn cameras have been tied to increased accountability and give police and citizens another tool. We will be working closely with community stakeholders as we move toward implementation.”

Noffsinger added body cameras aren’t a solution in their own right but will hopefully lead to better interactions between officers and citizens. According to the university, research studies have shown officers wearing body cameras receive fewer complaints than those who aren’t.

“This is a significant commitment for our budget, especially amidst constraints due to the pandemic, because we understand the critical importance of providing this resource to our police officers, who serve and protect the Penn State community,” David Gray, senior vice president for finance and business, said. “Body-worn cameras offer advantages in keeping all parties safer and accountable during police-citizen interactions, enabling situational awareness, and improving community relations.”

According to Noffsinger, UPPS will continue providing updates on the project as it develops in the coming weeks and months.

Purchasing body cameras is the latest step UPPS has taken to work on building a stronger relationship with its constituents. Earlier this month, the department released a statement condemning the death of George Floyd and outlining several steps it would take, including investing in conflict resolution training and promoting diversity.

Penn State and State College police also released a joint statement earlier this month stating that they already follow the use-of-force policies proposed in Campaign Zero's 8 Can't Wait Campaign, including a ban on chokeholds and knee-holds and requiring use of de-escalation techniques.

StateCollege.com's Geoff Rushton contributed to this report.



Matt DiSanto is a Penn State student and writer for Onward State.
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