Campus Life

Following thorough review, Penn State to purchase police body-worn cameras

Credit: Pat Mansell/Penn StateAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After extensive research, Penn State will purchase body-worn cameras for all police officers at 22 campuses within University Police and Public Safety (UPPS), with the goal of equipping officers with the cameras within the next year.

Equipping every officer with body-worn cameras will enable UPPS to be more transparent and accountable as part of its ongoing efforts to build a stronger relationship with the Penn State communities it serves.

“As I’ve said before, we in the law enforcement profession can and must do everything in our power to do and be better and we can only do this while in close partnership with the communities we serve,” said Police and Public Safety Assistant Vice President Charlie Noffsinger. “Body-worn cameras have been tied to increased accountability and give police and citizens another tool. We will be working closely with community stakeholders as we move toward implementation.”

Noffsinger noted that body-worn cameras should not be seen as a solution on their own, but can be used as a promising approach to better interactions within communities if appropriate policy safeguards and training are in place for their use. Some research studies have shown that officers wearing body-worn cameras receive fewer complaints than do those who are not wearing the cameras.

Since 2017, under the direction of new leadership, UPPS has been undergoing a comprehensive five-year centralization process, which involves merging police and security units at 22 campuses into one department. This included restructuring the organization and a comprehensive look at major investments, like expanding personnel and purchasing essential equipment for Penn State police officers across Pennsylvania. It also emphasizes uniformity in policy and protocols across the state for all Penn State policing operations.

As part of the centralization plan, UPPS researched body-worn camera technology and its requirements, along with other tools for all 22 campuses. Following the conclusion of the research phase, UPPS in April requested funding from the University for body-worn cameras for roughly 150 police officers and related funding for video data storage, training and operations as part of its 2020-2021 budget request.

“This is a significant commitment for our budget, especially amidst constraints due to the pandemic, because we understand the critical importance of providing this resource to our police officers, who serve and protect the Penn State community,” said David Gray, senior vice president for Finance and Business. “Body-worn cameras offer advantages in keeping all parties safer and accountable during police-citizen interactions, enabling situational awareness, and improving community relations.” 

UPPS remains in the planning phase of the project and will provide future updates to the public, according to Noffsinger. The planning phase includes developing related policies and procedures that align with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) as part of the department’s ongoing accreditation process. CALEA is a credentialing authority for law enforcement agencies focused on demonstrated efficacy, fairness and standards of best practice for communities and law enforcement.

Last Updated August 06, 2020