York City schools police officers to wear body cameras

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YORK, Pa. -- Body cameras are no longer just a tool for police departments, but school districts as well.

Police officers in the School District of the City of York will be outfitted with the devices next month.

School District of the City of York Chief of Police Michael Muldrow said "we're confident that our actions and our officers conduct is always above reproach, and it allows us to show the public that we're willing to give ourselves increased oversight when we go about doing what we do on a daily basis," Muldrow said.

Many of the school district's schools and buildings already have security cameras.

For the district's chief of police, he sees the addition of officer body cams to be more of what the district is already doing at its schools.

"We're already using with the numerous cameras that we have throughout the district, in all buildings, at all levels," Muldrow said.

"We're nearly at 200 cameras at the high school alone, in the one property. So for us, it's an extension of what we're already doing," Muldrow added.

School district officers soon will have a new resource to keep the peace in the classroom.

"Where an officer knows going into the call or going into the response that they may likely need to have video documentation of what's occurring," Muldrow said.

"With a front facing display screen that allowed our device to be very overt, and to let students, families , visitors know when they're being recorded," Muldrow added.

School administrators with the school district of the City of York hope its new officer body cameras will encourage good behavior from students.

"Studies have shown with this device that it has a natural deterrent effect, just by seeing it being activated and a person seeing themselves and whatever conduct is being displayed being recorded right in front of them," Muldrow said.

Existing district rules determine who can see the video.

"You need to be a parent or legal guardian, that you need to file your report, your paper work, and go through the appropriate process which may include all the way up to having your request reviewed by the solicitor or potentially having to subpoena it to see it," Muldrow said.

How long the district will keep that footage depends on the seriousness of the situation.

"That's going to be circumstantial based on what the occurrence may have been, and what the administrator or what the district feels the needs are, after consulting with their attorney," Muldrow said.

While students are expected to follow the rules, school police officers will be required to do the same.

"When they dock their camera to recharge it at the end of the shift, it automatically downloads to a server. When it goes into the server, once it's in there, it can no longer be accessed by the officers, so there's no possibility of an officer being able to manipulate it, delete it, change it," Muldrow said.

With 11 officers serving eight schools, the body cams will provide another set of eyes for students, teachers, and police.

"You're bringing a witness with you wherever you go," Muldrow said.

The school district received a $25,000 dollar grant to pay for 14 cameras and a dedicated server to store the video.

"A recently purchased district own server, right here in the district that has several fail safes and fall backs for it that is purposes only for the storage of information from the body cameras," Muldrow said.

The cameras also have the capability to record audio, but officers won't be recording sound unless it's an emergency situation.

"We have a panic button capability that allows us to switch and turn the audio on. If the situation continues to escalate, and we feel as though there is going to be a need to capture the voices and the comments that are being made," Muldrow said."

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