Digital Exclusive: Hazleton Police Department trains officers for new body cameras

Digital Exclusive

HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Officers of the Hazleton Police Department began training to use their newest technology – Axon Body 3 cameras.

“It’s probably the highest reccomended one, at least that I can find the best reviews on. ” Chief Brian Schoonmaker of the Hazleton Police Department said.

Last month the police department needed to raise $15,000 to buy the new technology, in addition to funding already allocated for the body cameras.

“We actually exceeded the amount of money that we needed for it, so we were able to start purchasing additional cameras and we will be able to use those additional donations towards some other projects myself and the mayor and council have been looking at,” Schoonmaker said.

The training was held by Charlie Balon, a former police officer. Those trained today will go on to train the rest of the department’s officers. Balon says the cameras have many useful features.

“That includes, LTE connectivity, the ability to focus on and find the cameras through GPS and things like that. Depending on how the contract plays out for Hazleton Police, they may or may not have the ability to live stream the videos while the cameras are being audio and video recorded,” Charlie Balon, Professional Services Consultant for Axon Services, said.

The cameras can be used in various scenarios, for example… code enforcement.

“In particular where I retired from, we had some issues with large gatherings with some large gatherings all the time. Particularly now with COVID. Maybe those are somethings that can be recorded and give to the appropriate authorities that do that,” Balson said.

Chief Schoonmaker says it’s better to have cameras to protect officers, the community, and the city as a whole.

“It’s better to have this tool to prevent any future problems. It’s being preventive, getting ahead of the game instead of falling behind the 8 ball like most places have,” Schoonmaker said.

The department hopes to have the new body cameras in use for patrolmen by the end of this week or early next week.

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