Lancaster DA: Police should wait on body cameras

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – While Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman supports body cameras for police officers, he has a message for departments in Lancaster County.

“If you’re going to do it, do it right,” he said.

The issue came front and center earlier this year when Lancaster officials said they were budgeting money to equip the police department with cameras.

The theory of body cameras I completely support,” Stedman told ABC 27 News. “The concept in an ideal world sounds great.”

In a memo to police chiefs in the county, Stedman said he has a number of concerns. He said the biggest issue he has is the state’s wiretap law, which prohibits some recording in a home.

“You can imagine a scenario of a police officer in pursuit of somebody,” Stedman said. “What are they going to do? Turn off the camera off?”

Stedman told ABC 27 News he also wants a uniform policy across the county. He said that’s why he’s asking officers to wait before using cameras on a daily basis.

“I think we have an obligation to the community and the taxpayer to make sure it’s going to be a positive thing all around,” he said.

As it stands, the West Hempfield Township Police Department uses body cameras for interviews only. Chief Mark Pugliese told ABC 27 News that it’s hard to argue with the district attorney’s suggestions.

“The law and the requirements of the law, that’s foremost when you’re looking at the body cameras,” Pugliese said.

Stedman told ABC 27 News that city officials have also agreed. He said he realizes other Midstate departments use cameras, but said it’s best to proceed with caution.

“We’re not saying no to body cameras,” he said. “We’re saying slow it down and let’s do it right.”

Stedman also said there are issues with staffing to handle the extra video and where it wound be stored.

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