Ferguson Township Police are wearing body cameras

Date: June 18, 2018

 

Ferguson Township Police are now wearing body cameras to record every official interaction with the public, from routine traffic stops to arrests. The FTPD is the first municipality in the Centre Region to begin using both body and vehicle cameras; State College and Patton Township Police Departments were the first in the area to use vehicle cameras.

“We are policing ourselves,” said Ferguson Township Chief of Police Chris Albright, “for the protection of our citizens and our officers.” 

The decision to purchase body and vehicle cameras to record each incident reflects positively on the Ferguson Township Police Department’s transparency with its community. “Adding body cameras continues and strengthens the trusted relationship we have with the people we serve,” said Ferguson Township Police Sergeant Ryan Hendrick, who serves as the department’s community relations officer.  “The community trusts us, and we trust our officers.”

Chief Albright said one of the primary benefits of recording incidents is providing better evidence in court.  The district attorney’s office will receive a recording of every arrest. In reality, most recordings will never be released to the public. “Much of what we record will be protected information,” he said.  In the event that a video is released to the public, the redacted version will blur images such as license plates, driver’s licenses, identifiable items in the vehicle or home, and the faces of minors and bystanders.

A change in Pennsylvania law makes it easier for law enforcement officers to use body cameras, provided they meet required criteria. Effective on September 5, 2017, Act 22 set standards for the type of equipment police use and how they maintain the information they record. These criteria also apply to the use of vehicle dash cams.

Ferguson Township Police have undertaken this initiative with thorough attention to meeting the Act 22 criteria. They include the following:

  • Communications must be made in the presence of a law enforcement officer who is on duty, in uniform or otherwise identifiable as a law enforcement officer, and who is using an approved recording device in the course of law enforcement duties. 
     
  • Law enforcement personnel who meet these conditions are no longer required to announce that they are recording, or switch off their recording devices when they enter a residence, to avoid a Wiretap Act violation. Rest assured, Act 22 does not alter Fourth Amendment liability for entering a home without a warrant or probable cause.
     
  • In adherence to Act 22 requirements, the FTPD has established a written policy that details (1) the training of officers authorized to make recordings, (2) the time periods when the recording devices will be in operation, (3) the proper use, maintenance, and storage of the recording devices, and (4) the information that is collected from audio or video. The policy also indicates how long the video will be retained – up to 90 days or indefinitely.

Residents with questions about police use of body and vehicle cameras are encouraged to contact the Ferguson Township Police Department at (814) 237-1172. 

VIDEO

In these video demonstrations of the FTPD’s new body and vehicle cameras, Chief of Police Chris Albright poses as a motorist at a routine traffic stop for failing to obey a stop sign. Sergeant Devon Moran’s cameras record the scene. Notice that the vehicle’s license plate number and the Chief’s driver’s license and registration are blurred to prevent identification. 

Body Camera Demo

Vehicle Camera Demo