The first initiative accomplished by the York County Safety Collab was to purchase 142 body-worn cameras for 10 York County police departments with a $75,000 grant. Police body cams have been recognized as an excellent tool to enhance public safety, increase police transparency, and improve community trust. They can also provide better evidence for criminal cases.
But despite their benefits and acceptance by both police departments and community leaders, Pennsylvania lags far behind other states in implementing the use of body cams. According to WHYY, Pennsylvania’s strict wiretapping laws hampered the introduction of the tool for a long time. In 2017, Governor Wolf signed a law which allowed police to use body cameras without violating wiretapping laws, but another huge obstacle still prohibits most departments from purchasing the cameras: cost. Depending on the model, each camera costs anywhere from $100 to $1000.
In conjunction with the new legislation, the governor also announced a $52,000 federal grant to start a camera pilot program with the Pennsylvania State Police in 2018. Most smaller police departments in Pennsylvania don’t have access to those kinds of funds and remain unable to even trial the technology. The York County Safety Collab was created to bridge such gaps between desired safety improvements in our community and real world limitations. Our grant provided continuous operation cameras with automatic video initiation and wireless uploading to the majority of York County officers. It’s one more way that we’re trying to make York County a safer place for everyone.
How Can You Help?
Our goal is to provide body cameras to all 475+ police officers in York County! This effort requires additional funding if you would like to be a part of this initiative.