The Chester Police Department announced Monday the roll-out of body cameras for 10 patrol officers, marking the first step toward increased transparency for a force that has been beset by tensions with its community.
The move comes after outcry this winter over two police-involved shootings that occurred within five weeks earlier this year.
After the first shooting, Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland announced in February at a town hall meeting that body cameras and increased surveillance cameras are a priority for his administration.
Kirkland said Monday that no single incident prompted the decision to equip officers with patrol cameras. Instead, he said the move was for "accountability for our officers, and also for our citizens."
Monday's launch marks the first step of a pilot program expected to last through the end of 2016.
A fleet of 10 officers will test body cameras - worn either on their chests or sunglasses - for a 90-day period. The department will continue testing with different vendors for the remainder of the year.
A donation of $10,000 by Vahan Gureghian, CEO of CSMI, the management company for Chester Community Charter School, will help fund the pilot program.
Equipping the department's full fleet of 65 patrol officers is slated to cost between $70,000 to $100,000, Kirkland said.
Now that the roll-out has begun, Kirkland said, "the criminals know that big brother is watching."