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Philadelphia Police To Begin Testing Officer-Worn Video Cameras

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(A body camera worn by an Evesham Township, NJ police officer.  File photo by Cleve Bryan/ CBS3)

(A body camera worn by an Evesham Township, NJ police officer. File photo by Cleve Bryan/ CBS3)

Hanson_Tony--NEW Tony Hanson
Tony Hanson has spent his entire illustrious career at KYW Newsradio,...
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By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia police department is planning a pilot program for body cameras for officers.

Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey, a proponent, says he hopes to have a small number of officers — perhaps ten — equipped with the body-worn cameras by the end of this year or early next.

“We still have to develop policy around retention (of video), and when it would be on, when it would be OK to turn it off, all those kinds of things,” Ramsey said today.  “But I think it is the way to go.  It’s the future, and we are going to do it.”

Some body-worn cameras are clipped to the chest, others to an epaulet or to the earpiece of a pair of eyeglasses.

Police union president John McNesby says he’s heard both positives and negatives of having police officers wear cameras.

“It cuts complaints down.  You know, it protects the officer, but then it can also be used to second-guess an officer, because they are only out there with a split second to make a decision,” McNesby says.

And McNesby notes the cameras would be costly, and he believes the money would be better spent fixing the department’s failing infrastructure and equipment.

Ramsey acknowledges the point but says that can’t be a barrier to moving forward.

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