City’s top cop says there are multiple reasons
In the wake of the fatal shooting of Mark Daniels by Pittsburgh police Officer Gino A. Macioce and an unnamed recruit, Feb. 11, in Homewood, several questions have yet to be answered.
Several might already have been answered had the officers been wearing body cameras. The reasons they were not, police Chief Scott Schubert told the New Pittsburgh Courier, are multiple, and some, frustrating.
As the Courier reported, the Bureau of Police first outfitted motorcycle and bicycle officers in 2015. After Harrisburg lawmakers carved out an exception to the state wiretap law, and federal funding secured—it was supposed to outfit regular patrol officers, as well—400 of them.
But that didn’t happen, either, because while the state still had to modify the law, a backlog for the Taser Axon cameras developed as departments around the country ordered them.
Internally, there were other delays—all the zone stations had to be electrically and electronically upgraded to house the docks that the 400 cameras will use to download and save images.
“That had to be done by the city’s Public Works Department,” said Chief Schubert. “Then we have to train the officers how to use them.”
But even though the bureau, the union, and most officers agree that the cameras will be a benefit to the police and the public—increasing transparency while reducing excess use of force, as well as spurious charges of excess use of force—the Fraternal Order of Police union might delay things further.
Robert Swartzwelder, FOP fort Pitt Lodge 1 president, said wearing body cameras constitutes a change in working conditions that must be bargained.
Chief Schubert said there will be no more delays.
“That’s not going to stop us from doing what we’re doing for the betterment of the bureau and the community,” he said. “The union will not delay deployment.”
Another reason Officer Macioce was not wearing a camera is because though Police Zone 5 where he shot Daniels has a high incidence of homicide, the cameras are being deployed in Zone 3—the South Side, first.
“A lot of people don’t know that Zone 3 has the highest incidence of use of force—and complaints—in the city,” he said. “Zone 5 is scheduled next. Then, Zones 1, 2, 4 and 6 will get them.”
Chief Schubert said he is still waiting for his own body camera.
“Our assistant chief of operations is wearing one,” he said. “But I’m waiting because I want everyone else to get theirs first. We are working to get everything out there as fast as possible. These are going to be a great thing for the officers and the community.”