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Police body cameras should be standard equipment

We are heartened to hear the the Lock Haven and Bellefonte Police Departments are on course to obtain body cameras for their respective law enforcement officers.

No doubt, body cameras are an effective and important tool for investigation and prosecution.

They help to bring truth into the courtroom when people are charged and crimes are contested.

Seems to us that body cameras should be mandated.

Kudos, too, to Clinton County District Attorney Dave Strouse and Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna for being catalysts for the respective departments through lobbying and providing funds.

Aside from helping to find the truth, body cameras bring accountability to law enforcement officers.

Lock Haven Police Chief Kristin Smith said her department is requesting approximately $21,000 worth of grant funding to purchase 14 body cameras for each of its officers.

The Clinton County Sheriff’s Department is requesting $27,000 for 12 deputies.

The cost difference between the two departments is due to the city already possessing a system to store footage.

In 2014, Lock Haven purchased a 4 terabyte server to store footage from the department’s five cameras installed in police cruisers, Chief Smith told The Express.

The sheriff’s department would need to purchase a storage system as well as the cameras.

In Bellefonte, Cantorna and Bellefonte Police Chief Shawn Weaver have been lobbying for body cameras for more than a year.

Weaver told The Express he was happy to finally get the purchase approved.

Bellefonte is one of the final departments in Centre County to get body cameras. Ferguson, Patton and Spring townships have been using them since 2018. State College Police began using body cameras in July 2019.

Buying body cameras is the first hurdle. Having the technology to back them up is the second.

Making sure officers wear them regularly is paramount.

Based on criminal caseload, we know body cameras help victims of domestic violence, one of the most difficult cases to prosecute because of factors involving victims’ hesitation to testify or even appear in court.

Body cameras can save lives and put people behind bars who deserve to be there, ultimately protecting us all.

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