Police cars in Erie, Pennsylvania are starting to operate with camera technology while in the field. According to a recent report, the local police department is adding dash cams to one cruiser weekly. The move is a trial run to test the usefulness of the technology.
Why has it taken so long to get dash cams? One of the biggest obstacles involved state law. A Pennsylvania state law called the wiretap law made it illegal to record an individual without his or her knowledge. An officer that violated this law was at risk of losing his or her pension. Recent changes to the law allow for the use of dash cams.
The Chief of Police for the Erie Police Department states in the same piece that these changes in the law have allowed Pennsylvania officers to get "current with the times."
What benefits are present with dash cams? Dash cams can serve a number of benefits, including:
- Accountability. A recording provides some accountability for officers. Officers aware that their actions are on record may be more likely to act as if a superior is watching -- because one just may.
- Evidence. The recording could also serve as evidence if there are concerns that proper protocol was not followed during the stop.
Although many enforcement officers conduct themselves within the bounds of the law and serve our community proudly, there are some that may not follow proper protocol during a stop.
Those who are the victims of an improper stop that results in criminal charges are wise to seek legal counsel. An experienced criminal defense attorney can review the stop and build a case to help better ensure your innocence is protected. If the stop is deemed illegal, any resulting evidence could get thrown out. Contact an attorney to discuss your options.