Body cameras

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

In a public hearing this week, dozens of advocates spoke to Pittsburgh City Council about what legal distinction would come from declaring itself a "Sanctuary City" legislation. Pittsburgh is not a sanctuary city, and Councilman Dan Gilman has said that label doesn't matter as much as the city's actions.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

During a special Pittsburgh City Council meeting Tuesday, public safety officials called on Gov. Tom Wolf to sign legislation that would allow officers more latitude in using their body cameras.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Body cameras have a way of rapidly de-escalating situations, according to Chief Jeff Besong, the head of Point Park University's Department of Public Safety.

One of his officers recently approached a family in the midst of an argument on the Boulevard of the Allies, and the adult man in the group began swearing at him. As soon as the officer informed the man he was being recorded on a body camera, the profanity ceased, Besong said.

Kaffeeeinstein / Flickr

Nearly a year after President Barack Obama proposed funding for 50,000 body-worn cameras for police officers nationwide, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is getting its share.

The Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing in Pittsburgh Wednesday, where city and county officials called for amendments to state laws that limit the use of body-worn cameras by police officers.

According to Cole McDonough, chief of the Mt. Lebanon Police Dept., the state Wiretap Act requires officers to turn-off or remove their body cameras before entering a private residence without a warrant. McDonough said this creates safety and liability issues.

Wildlife Conservation Officers and Waterways Conservation Officers (WCOs) in Pennsylvania now have the option to wear body cameras in the line of duty, says state Representative Dan Moul (R-Adams).

“I will argue every day of the week that a WCO is the same as any police officer,” Moul said, referring to a newly enacted state law that allows municipal police officers to wear body cameras. “Their duties are just a little different. The training is virtually the same.”

After voting in favor of a 2015 budget amendment that would speed up the timeline for deployment of body-worn cameras for police officers, Councilman Dan Gilman on Wednesday held a post-agenda meeting on surveillance and privacy.