(Screenshot via YouTube)
A Philadelphia City Council hearing last week heard testimony from a dozen witnesses on how the Philadelphia Police Department’s body camera program should be rolled out beyond the current pilot-mode to the entire force.
From policies to budget, from privacy to hardware, the slew of witnesses provided the Council with a wealth of information on the program’s implementations and best practices.
Below is the full three-hour video, but since (let’s be honest here) no one is going to sit through the entire tape, we’ve queued up the key parts for you.
- PPD Commissioner Richard Ross’s testimony.
- Body cam demo from Capt. Mark Fisher.
- Testimony from Mike Vidro, director for Public Safety Technology at the Office of Information and Technology (“The cost of the cameras are not what’s prohibitive, but rather the cloud storage.”).
- District Attorney Seth Williams.
- Michael Mellon from the Defender’s Association of Philadelphia.
- James Coldren of the CNA Institute of Public Research.
- Harlan Yu, Principal at Upturn.
- Mary Catherine Roper, Deputy Legal Director from the American Civil Liberties Union Pennsylvania.
- John White, CTO of Signature Systems.
- Thomas Nestel III, SEPTA’s Chief of Police.
- Greg Brinkley, Founder and President of People United for Justice and Accountability
Per Hannah Sassaman, Media Mobilizing Project’s policy director, the hearing was a nuanced and productive conversation as a first step. The watchdog group said they were open to helping the Council set policies around the use of the cameras.
“It’s extraordinarily important for our communities to understand when and how police officers are using body worn cameras on our streets, especially if the city is planning to expand use of these cameras across the whole police force,” said Sassaman. “We heard a resounding interest from the testifiers and community members who spoke during and leading up to this hearing to make sure that these cameras hold police officers accountable to the communities they serve — rather than work as evidence-gathering or surveillance tools for the police.”