Bellefonte Police Department, Last In Centre County Municipalities, Will Soon Have Body Cameras
The Bellefonte Police Department will have body cameras as soon as the end of this month. They were approved by Bellefonte Borough Council at a Monday night meeting, with help from Centre County.
The Bellefonte PD will purchase 11 cameras for its officers and sign a five-year contract for cloud storage of the footage for a total of $25,000. The Centre County District Attorney’s office has offered $15,000 from drug forfeiture proceeds to fund the purchase.
Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna and Bellefonte Police Chief Shawn Weaver have been advocating for the purchase for more than a year.
Cantorna said body cameras provide crucial information for prosecution and build accountability for law enforcement.
“It adds a level of integrity to the legal system that's important if we're going to have the trust and the confidence of the public,” Cantorna said.
He said body cameras have proven to be a powerful tool in improving police work in other parts of the county.
“Having that original content from an event is something that is very, very provocative and helpful in any criminal case,” he said. “And it answers a lot of questions. So it isn't, ‘Did an officer write something down about what somebody said?’ It's right there. You just hit play.”
Weaver told council members that body cameras would serve both officers and citizens because of increased transparency.
At the meeting, Borough Council President Joanne Tosti-Vasey and Mayor Tom Wilson accepted a check from Cantorna.
Bellefonte is the last municipality in Centre County to have police body cameras. Ferguson, Patton and Spring townships have been using them since 2018, and State College police started the practice in July 2019.