Police departments in Dauphin County prepare to test body cameras

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A Dauphin County grand jury recommends all police agencies in the county use body cameras. This comes after the jury found a Pennsylvania State Trooper was justified in shooting a man in West Hanover Township in June. They say body camera video would have been valuable to the investigation. Dauphin County First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo believes they could make a major difference in court.

"This report encourages police to use it so it protects both the public and the police from false accusations," says Chardo.

The Swatara Township Police Department plans to follow that recommendation as well as departments from Susquehanna Township and the City of Harrisburg. But not just because of the jury's report.

Police Chief Jason Umberger says it's incidents like what happened in Ferguson, Missouri that have made him more interested. Chief Umberger says there should be no reason why a jury can't solely depend on testimony from a police officer but he says body cameras further prove what happened.

"We've seen over and over again across the years that juries or if there's conflicting witness accounts it seems as if people want more and more information to make their decisions," says Umberger.

The question now, can police afford it? Umberger says he's looking at a price of $300 to $400 a camera. He says it's money well worth it.

"There's so much video out there, everybody has a cell phone now a days, they're taking just little bits and pieces of the incident and they don't see the entire incident and so this will be an opportunity if our officers are wearing a body camera we'll have the opportunity to see the entire incident on video," says Umberger.

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