Midstate police department says using body cameras has been positive

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | May 7, 2015 1:12 PM

Photo by Jeremy Long -- Lebanon Daily News

North Cornwall Township Patrolman John Houser displays one of the eight body cameras the North Cornwall Township Police Department has for its officers. The police department was the second in the state to use body-worn cameras.

(North Cornwall Township) -- The debate over equipping police officers with body cameras has picked up steam over the past few months. But for North Cornwall Township in Lebanon County, it's not a new idea.

Officers have been using the cameras for two years. They aren't required to turn on the cameras at all, but they mostly record traffic stops.

When an officer gets back to the station, they simply place it on a docking station, and all the data is downloaded and sent to a remote, secure storage space.

The system costs the department of nine officers about $5,000 a year.

To those at larger departments who question how they would pay for all the data storage, North Cornwall Police Lieutenant Michael Conz says it's worth it.

"Once they're informed that they are being audio and video recorded, a lot of times their demeanor changes as well. And it also helps the officer make sure he stays in line and doesn't get out of control or anything like that," says Lt. Conz.

Conz says he's used the video to refresh his memory when writing reports, or resolve disputes with people who file complaints against officers.

"We wanted to show what's going on outside that area. And this is all from the officer's perspective. You're seeing what the officer's seeing," he adds.

The U-S Justice Department is funding $20 million worth of body cameras for police departments nationwide, in the wake of deadly police encounters in Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore, Cleveland, and South Carolina.

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