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Richland Township Police to wear body cameras

By Meghan Packer, Reporter, MPacker@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 20 2014 09:10:23 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 20 2014 09:44:23 PM CDT

A Bucks County police department has a new way to keep an eye on things.

RICHLAND TWP., Pa. -

A Bucks County police department has a new way to keep an eye on things.

The Richland Township Police Department purchased eight AXON Flex Cameras, which are body cameras police officers will wear.

"I think this is going to be a great help for us," said Officer Jim Hohenwarter. "We can focus more on the situation in front of us as opposed to worrying about getting information written down on a notepad. We can conduct a better interview more focused."

Detective Sergeant Raymond Aleman said officers will start recording when they interact with people in public, like during a traffic stop, for example.

"When the officer activates it, it goes back 30 seconds. It doesn't go back sound 30 seconds, it goes back video 30 seconds," said Aleman.

"It's not a 24-7 recording of this officer. We don't want to watch them eat lunch or anything else. What this is for is citizen contact for times when our officers are interacting with persons out in the public," added Aleman. "When you're approached by the officer or you've called for the officer, he's going to let you know that that's on since
it's not the norm in policing right now."

The device can record up to four hours of video. When officers return to the police station, they put it on a docking station and the video is downloaded. Aleman said the evidence is sent to a company called evidence.com.

"That way it's secure and it cannot be altered," he said.

Officer Hohenwarter demonstrated how an officer wears the equipment.

"The power pack is here on my belt currently. It doesn't necessarily have to be here but it's certainly the easiest place for me," he said. "The wire itself runs up, right now it's running up underneath my shirt, behind my back, coming up here behind my shirt and
actually onto the camera itself."

He had the camera mounted to safety glasses, but said it could be attached to an officer's hat or uniform.

Aleman said, "Some people have raised the privacy concern. It's not to be deployed in someone's house. This is not for surreptitious recording."

Police said using the cameras brings them up to speed with today's technology-driven culture.

"I think it's a plus. I think it's going to be the wave of the future as far as policing," said Aleman. "We're a visual society. We have the internet, videos, television, people are used to seeing things on a screen."

"We live in a recorded society, there's cameras everywhere," added Hohenwarter.

Richland Township Police hope to start using the cameras in a couple weeks.

TASER International, Inc. makes the AXON flex cameras. A spokesperson said more than 1,200 law enforcement agencies use their body-worn cameras.