The SEPTA Transit Police Department today released its first audit for the Body-Worn Camera Program. The report indicates that the cameras are positively impacting SEPTA Transit Police officers’ interactions with the public, while also noting areas where use of this new technology can be improved.
The audit examines the first six months of the Body-Worn Camera Program, which launched on Jan. 1, 2016. The SEPTA Board approved the purchase of Digital Ally First VU body-worn cameras for all Transit Police officers in July 2015 following a successful pilot test. The overall program, including equipment and training, cost approximately $400,000 to launch.
“The Body-Worn Camera Program aims to strengthen relationships with the public by showing them the extra checks and balances this new technology provides,” said SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel III. “The hope is that the need for physical force by the police will diminish, and false allegations lodged by citizens against the police will be reduced. The cameras also serve as an added deterrent to abuse of authority.”
The audit indicates that progress is being made in these areas. During the first six months that the Body-Worn Cameras were in use, the audit found:
- Response to Resistance incidents decreased by 19 percent
- Offender/suspect injuries decreased by 20 percent
- Officer injuries decreased by 30 percent
- Complaints against Transit Police officers decreased by 25 percent
The visual and audio evidence from Body-Worn Cameras is also proving to be a valuable resource for investigations. Over the six-month period, 13,970 videos were retained for evidentiary, investigative or training purposes.
The audit also points out areas where improvements can be made. Of the videos randomly selected for the audit, 8 percent had unclear video and audio due to the placement of the camera, and 5 percent of the incidents did not include any audio. In addition, some police response incidents examined for the audit did not have the required recording. When necessary, officers receive re-training on how to use the devices, in accordance with the department’s Body-Worn Camera Policy.
To read more, please click here to see the full report.