Erie Police Testing Out New Dash Camera System - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Erie Police Testing Out New Dash Camera System

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The Erie Police Department is testing out a new crime-fighting tool.

A WatchGuard brand dash camera is installed in one of the EPD cruisers for a 30-day trial run.

It features a 180-degree swivel HD camera, and will active when an officer turns on the vehicle's lights and sirens.

It's the same brand of dash camera that Pennsylvania State Police and Millcreek police currently use.

The digital camera will be connected to a microphone the officers will wear, and the officers can also manually activate the system by the microphone.

There will also be a camera located in the back seat of cruisers to film suspects taken into custody.

Chief Don Dacus says it's much more cost-effective to install these cameras in 34 cruisers, than outfitting the 127 patrol officers with body cameras, "The body camera program, they each require just like a cell phone, monthly service.So we would have reoccurring costs every month for every camera, forever. Versus dash cameras, we would maintain our own service, we don't pay for storage, and we have the ability to handle it ourselves," said Chief Dacus.

The last time Erie police had dash cameras was about 10 to 12 years ago, but they were outdated and labor intensive.

Chief Dacus says this new system serves multiple purposes for the department, "We wanted to serve as many purposes as possible; one transparency and trust with the public, two, to provide our officers with a level of safety and security as well as the citizens," said Dacus. "It's also a lot less intrusive than body cameras, you don't want to be putting a camera in front of a victim or witnesses' face immediately once they've suffered a tragedy," Dacus Continued.

Chief Dacus says the cameras would cost $200,000, without any reoccurring charges, unlike the body cameras would require.

City council would still have to approve the plan, if they do, the cameras would be installed in all cruisers by early 2018.

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