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The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's (SEPTA) police force is now equipped with body cameras, the agency announced last week.The technology is aimed at strengthening relationships with the public and providing evidence for investigations, SEPTA officials said in a press release.The department-wide launch of the body camera program started Jan. 1, following a pilot test that began in July 2014 with 15 officers field-testing cameras from several different manufacturers.The success of the pilot program prompted the agency to pursue adding cameras for all officers, SEPTA officials said. SEPTA's board approved the purchase of Digital Ally First VU body-worn cameras and related accessories in July 2015. The overall program, including equipment expenses and training, will cost $400,000, according to SEPTA."We've done this because we believe it gives the SEPTA Transit Police Department more credibility with the community. They'll have more trust in us, and feel there are additional checks and balances," said SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel III. "These cameras will also greatly aide with our investigative efforts by providing audio and visual evidence of officers' interactions with the public and response to calls."The initiative also enhances the agency's overall video coverage of the transit system. Currently, more than 18,000 surveillance cameras are installed at stations and on trains, buses and trolleys.To learn more about how transit agencies across the country are tackling security-related issues, follow this link to Progressive Railroading's January cover story.
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