Decisions to be Made Concerning Bellevue Police – Part One of Two

In the last two council meetings (January Pre-Council and Regular Council Meetings), a lengthy discussion was had surrounding the future of the Borough of Bellevue’s Police Department of which we believe the public should be aware. During both meetings the conversation focused largely on two hot button issues:

In this post we will explore and reflect on the first matter of debate: Should Bellevue Police be required to wear body cameras?

ows_138249664029519Debate surrounding this issue largely surrounded purpose and cost. Members of Bellevue Council and the Mayor went back and forth regarding whether the borough should invest in a new camera system for the police department and whether that camera system should be installed solely in police cruisers or if the cameras should be worn by the actual officers.

As most LiB readers are surely aware, as a result of the high publicized deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, many police departments around the country are having similar conversations about police body cameras. The theory being that had those offers implemented the use of body cameras, clear and decisive evidence surrounding what occurred in both of these incidents might have ended all debate on the matter one way or the other.

During the January Regular Council meeting on Tuesday, January 27, Mayor Paul Cusick expressed reservations concerning the use of body cameras because he feared they could be used in violation of individual privacy if the cameras are turned on when police enter a private residence. He would prefer the borough invest in less expensive new cameras to be installed in police cruisers with the option of body cameras coming at a later date. Members of Council seemed to disagree and advocated that, in spite of the higher price point, the cameras would protect individual liberties of both the police and private citizens rather than violate them. Council was due to discuss the matter in committee and the upcoming council meetings.

We are curious what the residents and voters of Bellevue think. Should the Bellevue Police Department begin the practice of wearing body cameras? Why or why not??

Party two of our “Decisions to be Made Concerning Bellevue Police” series will be posted tomorrow.

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10 Responses to “Decisions to be Made Concerning Bellevue Police – Part One of Two”

  1. Yes, the police should wear body cameras. Using the technology will serve to protect both parties in any law enforcement situation.

  2. I agree! Yes, the police should wear body cameras. If you are a decent law abiding citizen, you have nothing to worry about. If not, well… then I guess you would oppose this. I don’t want to hear any crap about the police taking away civil rights. If an officer tell you to quit resisting, then do it!!!

  3. Do the body cameras have a live feed that is recording elsewhere, off the body? If not what is to stop someone from just taking the camera with the evidence and destroying it? Due to the freedom of information act anyone would be able to access saved tapes. How much is it going to cost for long term for storage of the tapes on a data base or other site? How secure are the cameras? Could they be hacked? Another privacy expectation gone. While I do not want any public servant in harms way I have a hard time trading personal freedoms in a private residence for further government intrusions.

  4. I do believe may need the cameras either in the cruisers or on themselves. Here is my biggest problem “cost” for either type of camera.
    I’m sorry, but some how I believe the citizens will end up paying for it with higher taxes.

  5. Wear the body cameras. Protect the cops and the taxpayers from money seekers and political agitators. And something, and I don’t know what, can be legislated to exempt frivolous freedom of information access.

  6. Or Bellevue council could just realize that incidents like the Michael Brown and Garner Incidents are so very, very rare and they don’t have to be prepared for things that occur so infrequently that outlays in preparation are basically frivolous and a waste of taxpayer money.

  7. I agree with Bill and pose a few other questions… should all teachers wear body cameras (since we had one nod off on heroin in class)??? Should all clergy members wear body cameras since they have a history of sexual abuse? When does the scrutiny become an invasion of privacy??? Also, how long will the camera data be stored and on what cloud??? Who will cover THAT expense???

    • People are already able to use scanners to pick up radio chatter from emergency services. Now will it be common place to have an app on your devices to watch you favorite police station in action live at you neighbor’s house, the local lunch counter, the bathroom? Reality TV at it’s best? Good thing video voyeur laws are few and far between because the law has not caught up with technology. It is ok for police to use this technology because the intent is honorable? Give government an inch they take a mile. Why can’t local services tap into the drones flying around?

  8. What about victim rights? Typically crimes involving children or of a sexual nature are sealed from the public and media to protect the victim. If first responders are using video then those privacy safeguards will be in danger.

  9. Hello Everyone,
    I think the major concern over the body cameras is the wiretap law of Pa. that a officer has to ask for permission videotape while entering a home. I would think people in their own homes do not want someone invading it with a camera, especially if they are doing something wrong. As Beth has mentioned, the race between technology and law are still distant. Let’s do our best to arm our officers with the best tools available to protect and serve without hindering the integrity of the service provided due to uncertainties yet not ironed out.
    It’s long but here’s the link to the law. http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/LI/consCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&ttl=18&div=0&chpt=57

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