PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A Senate Judiciary hearing was held Wednesday morning in Pittsburgh on law enforcement practices.
A panel of experts attended, including Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Lt. Andrew Schurman of the Allegheny County Police Department, District Attorney Stephen Zappala and Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay.READ MORE: Lane Restrictions, Detour In Effect For The Weekend On I-376 In Moon Township
The goal of the meeting was to learn more about certain police practices like DNA testing during investigations, the use of body cameras and using eyewitnesses to identify suspects.
Mayor Peduto told the panel that state laws should be changed to allow the use of police body cameras. Under the current law, body cameras have to be turned off when police enter a person’s home. Wiretap laws restrict camera use in a person’s private residence.
“These simple changes will help to meet our goal of allowing every one of our police officers to be equipped with a body camera this year. But we do need your help,” said Mayor Peduto.
But, Chief McLay told the panel that body cameras have the potential to improve the criminal justice system and help investigations.
“I hit the pause button because I recognized the liability associated with putting officers in danger being in a private residence and accidentally recording something that could find them being criminally charged,” said Chief McLay. “So I hit pause until we know for sure we can move forward protecting the interests of the public as well as my officers.”
Tests show that once civilians learn the cameras are on, encounters tend to deescalate.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Weather: Dropping Temperatures, Rain Chances
Police officers who use motorcycles or bikes instead of cruisers currently use them.
Another topic at today’s hearing was the records that were stolen from the City County Building last week. The police recruit files were stolen from a personnel office after normal business hours.
When officials realized the files were missing, the recruits were notified and a report was filed.
Mayor Peduto says he is concerned about the thefts, and that his administration is currently restoring the surveillance cameras in the City County Building that were previously disabled.
“A personnel department is usually not the place where you would see a break in but in this case we know the date, we know specifically what time it was and now we’ll work through the police bureau to try and find out but why those files? I’m at a loss at this point,” Mayor Peduto said.
The protocol for entering offices in that building is also being reviewed.MORE NEWS: Kennywood Park Reopens For 2021 Season With COVID-19 Safety Protocols In Place