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All Cherry Hill police now wearing body cameras

The Cherry Hill Police Department is the latest local force to launch a body-camera program.

The Cherry Hill Police Department is the latest local force to launch a body-camera program.

All sworn officers have been wearing body cameras, which let police record their interactions with citizens, since early November, the department said.

"The Cherry Hill Police Department is committed to providing the best possible service and protection to the Cherry Hill community, and these cameras are a natural step forward in the evolution of our department," Chief William Monaghan said in a statement Monday. "We strongly believe this new tool will improve public safety by enhancing transparency and accountability, which benefits both our officers, and members of the public."

Officials said the program had been in development for two years and a contract was awarded in August for the Taser Axon 2 camera model, which each officer will wear on his or her chest.

The Cherry Hill force has 129 sworn officers.

The use of police body cameras has rapidly expanded in recent years as departments respond to calls for increased transparency and look to discourage false complaints about police misconduct.

A body worn camera, or BWC, "recording of a police-involved shooting or other use of force event provides objective evidence of what occurred," states a Cherry Hill police order outlining how the devices are to be used. "The practical utility of BWCs discourages officers and civilians from engaging in inappropriate conduct. These devices also discourage both law enforcement and civilian witnesses from providing false information about the circumstances of the encounter; a BWC recording not only can vindicate an officer who is falsely accused of misconduct, but also discourage a person from making false allegations against the officer in the first place."

Many departments in the Philadelphia region are now using the devices, and that number continues to grow. Since this summer, departments that include Chester City, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, Burlington Township and several Bucks County agencies have started wearing body cameras.