WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE 28/WYOU 22 EYEWITNESS NEWS) — The Wilkes-Barre Police Department has launched the use of body cameras for its officers.
The police chief and the mayor say it’s all about the truth… And they say these body cameras will help hold officers and the public accountable for their actions..
“It’s another tool in our tool belt that helps us do our job. It helps keep us safe and the public safe. It provides some measure of accountability,” said Wilkes-Barre Police Chief Joe Coffay.
And that’s the bottom line, say Wilkes-Barre police officials. The I-Team got an up close look at the new body cams on Wednesday.
“It gives us safety measures when officers are out these cameras are on, people act differently when they know cameras are on. We’ve already run into instances where people have actually calmed down knowing they were on camera that leads to the incident that doesn’t escalate,” chief Coffay explained.
“Some other functions, audio. I can do markers in time of something that happened and actually document really quickly and simply pressing the button, which hash mark. So when we go back and review it in evidence I can find it quicker,” said officer Ronald Knorr.
Wilkes-Barre city officials initiated efforts last year to equip officers with body cams when questions were raised around the nation about relations between police officers and members of the public. Especially those living in underserved communities.
“If we can utilize the body cams, an officer with the correct policy for usage, for interaction, for people out on the street I think it’s going to increase the amount of comfort people feel when dealing with an officer and also gives a level of accountability for the officer,” said Daryl Lewis, who represents the NAACP and Black Lives Matter.
The general policy is that officers must turn on the body cams when they respond to a call or initiate a call on their own to check something out.
The cameras cost the city about $384,000 over a five-year period.