Three SEPTA transit police officers will wear cameras on their bodies as part of a pilot program starting this week. They’re wearing cameras from VidMic, the most common officer-mounted camera, which clips on to the shoulder radio cops already wear.
Officer cameras, SEPTA Transit Police Chief Thomas Nestel says, can actually cut costs for police departments: “Having video evidence can help us reduce complaints, help us reduce use-of-force incidents and reduce court overtime.” But, were all 275 SEPTA cops to wear cameras, the force would need additional staff to go through and catalog hours and hours of footage. Yo, the city could be hiring soon!
Officer-mounted cameras are a growing trend in American policing. The Washington Post recently editorialized in their favor. There is some opposition. Privacy advocates worry about what officer cameras will record; police unions worry about their members. The ACLU supports officer-mounted cameras, though. Bay Area transit has been testing mounted cameras since last year.
Nestel says the cameras will cost between $500 and $1,500. If the pilot program is successful, he says he’ll seek grant funding to outfit the whole force.