Pittsburgh Releases Guidelines for the Use of Body Cameras | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC

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Pittsburgh Releases Guidelines for the Use of Body Cameras

When a person is arrested, many questions may arise surrounding the legality and circumstances of that arrest. In an attempt to address the uncertainty of events, Pittsburgh utilizes body cameras on law enforcement officers. The city has recently released its guidelines for using those cameras in a safe and legal manner.

According to the Pittsburgh Police Department, it has about 170 cameras for its 800-member force. Officers may use those cameras when performing official duties; however, state laws prohibit the use of such cameras in certain situations.

Body Camera Use Policy

Pittsburgh requires all officers who use body cameras to be properly trained on their use and the guidelines provided to ensure the privacy of individuals is preserved. Additionally, officers may not terminate use of a body camera until an incident is complete.

Officers may use body cameras in the following situations:

  • During traffic and criminal enforcement stops
  • During police vehicle pursuits
  • When vehicle and criminal codes are being violated
  • At the scene of a fatal crash or major crime incident
  • To monitor DUI stops and standardized field sobriety tests
  • During pat downs and arrests
  • When obtaining consent to search

Restrictions on Body Camera Use

Violating privacy rights is a major concern regarding body camera use. Innocent bystanders and victims often wish to remain anonymous. The Pittsburg Police Department also has restrictions on the use of body cameras to address these situations.

State wiretapping laws prohibit the use of body cameras inside a private residence unless permission is given to use such a device. Officers must announce the use of the camera and obtain consent from residence occupants. However, if individuals are in public locations where a crime is being or has been committed, there is no guarantee that they will not appear on camera.

Police department supervisors may view recordings for up to 90 days. After that time, if a camera does not contain evidence that is valuable in an investigation, the footage will be deleted. This ensures recordings of innocent people will not be stored for an indefinite period of time.

How Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC Can Help You

There are many guidelines that restrict the use of body cameras by Pittsburg law enforcement officers. Although cameras can be beneficial, they can also violate your right to privacy. If body camera video footage was obtained during an incident in which you were involved, contact the experienced Pittsburgh criminal defense attorneys at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146 today to find out if your rights were violated.