As Pittsburgh’s City Council contemplates installing video cameras in all of the city’s police cars, officials from suburban departments that have been using “cruiser cams” for decades say the price of that technology is money well spent. “I have them in all of my cars,” said Robert Amann, chief of the Northern Regional Police Department. Carnegie Police Chief Jeff Harbin says that all four of his department’s cruisers contain digital recording equipment. That technology, along with in-car computers, gives today’s officers advantages he didn’t have as a patrolman. “Now you get in these cars and it’s like an airplane cockpit,” he added
A 2005 International Association of Chiefs of Police study says that videotape-recording systems for police cars first became available in the early 1960s. They were large, difficult to operate and expensive. The 1980s saw the introduction of VHS and 8 mm recording devices that were smaller and more affordable. Mothers Against Drunk Driving began buying recording systems for police cars to help with drunken driving prosecutions. The Post-Gazette describes how suburban Pittsburgh police departments use their cameras.