septa

The program began in January 2016 and has seen a 25 percent decrease in complaints.

Photo: Morgan Rees / The Daily Pennsylvanian

SEPTA’s police body camera program has proven its worth — complaints are down 25 percent, NewsWorks reported.

The entire SEPTA police force has been outfitted with video and audio recording body cameras, which are activated when the police respond to police radio calls or engage with the public.

The program’s first audit, covering the six months after the initiative began in January 2016, showed that complaints against officers decreased, and both officer and offender injuries decreased as well, by 30 percent and 20 percent respectively.

SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel said in a statement that the program was launched to ”strengthen relationships with the public by showing them the extra checks and balances this new technology provides.”

“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,” Nestel said. “The cameras also serve as an added deterrent to abuse of authority.”

Although the body camera initiative seems to be effective, its implementation has had hiccups. Not all officers announced that audio recording was occurring, and more than 20 percent of randomly selected encounters didn’t have the required corresponding video.

SEPTA police said three transit police officers have been disciplined because of footage captured by their body cameras.

Nestel launched a pilot program in 2014, which involved three officers wearing body cameras.

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