All 78 Philadelphia Housing Authority Police Department officers will be equipped with body cameras on Tuesday, making the department the latest to employ the devices across its force.
Kelvin Jeremiah, PHA president and chief executive officer, said he believes PHA is the nation's first housing authority to outfit all its officers with body cameras.
"We believe strongly this is the wave of the future," Jeremiah said. "Police hold a position of public trust and we want to make sure they are using the awesome authority they have in a responsible way."
PHA Police Chief Branville Bard, who joined the department last year after a 21-year career with the Philadelphia Police Department, said his officers were "overwhelmingly pleased" about the cameras.
"They know that it does provide that independent witness. It will not only ensure they are on their best behavior, but folks are more compliant when they know their activity is documented and recorded," Bard said. "It helps keep [officers] safer and protect civil liberties."
PHA purchased the body cameras from Taser International in a bundle with Tasers for about $190,000. The devices also come with five years of cloud-based storage.
Earlier this year, SEPTA outfitted all 289 of its Transit Police officers with body cameras.
The Philadelphia Police Department has a pilot body-camera program in the 22nd District in North Philadelphia, but data-storage capacity issues have prevented the department from rolling out cameras for all 6,100 of its officers.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross told City Council earlier this year that body cameras are "the way of the future" and that the department is committed to obtaining them.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said it does not keep track of how many housing authority police departments have outfitted cops with body cameras. He said that Philadelphia's housing agency is one of the few with its own police department.
Spokeswomen for the housing authorities in Boston and New Orleans did not immediately return requests for information about body cameras in their police departments.
An official with the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority in Cleveland said the 51 officers in its police department do not have body cameras.
Bard said his department piloted the body cameras with a few officers about a month ago, before rolling out the devices department-wide.
PHA police serve more than 82,000 residents in about 13,400 units.