Police officers in Wilkinsburg will soon have new body cameras through $514,000 in federal funds.

Wilkinsburg borough officials held a press conference Monday morning at the police station where they were presented with a check for the cameras.

Police Chief Ophelia “Cookie” Coleman said the money will pay for 24 body cameras, which is the number of police officers budgeted for the borough. Wilkinsburg currently has 13 police officers on duty, she said, and the borough is looking to fill the remaining vacancies.

The department plans on purchasing Axon Body 4 body cameras for its officers.

Coleman said the new body cameras have automatic triggers that ensure “events are not missed.”

For example, the cameras automatically turn on when an officer pulls a firearm, taser, or baton, she said. All officers in the area have their cameras turned on when just one officer turns theirs on.

“Wilkinsburg has a lot of challenges,” Coleman said. “We want to try to make it safe for not only our residents but our officers.”

She said the new body cameras should increase police department use and that will lead to safer outcomes and more public trust.

“That body camera is not going to lie,” Coleman said. “You have to be transparent.”

She said that feed is also sent live back to police headquarters, and the data is stored in the cloud rather than a local server.

Coleman thanked Democratic U.S. Sen. John Fetterman and U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio, D-Aspinwall, for asking Congress for the money.

“It is good for us to be here during national police week, to celebrate a good investment and keep folks safe while building trust,” Deluzio said.

Deluzio said the Wilkinsburg funding was a part of $15 million in community projects secured for his district, which covers Beaver County, as well as suburban communities in much of Allegheny County and the Allegheny Valley.

He said Scott Township police recently received funding for a mobile command center, Harmar got money for police vehicle cameras, and funds for K-9 unit for Northern Regional Police in the North Hills.

“I think this is putting some teeth behind honoring the work of our local law enforcement,” he said.

Fetterman said he understood the hurdles of running small police departments from his tenure as Braddock mayor from 2006 to 2018. He said more resources for local police departments will lead to safer communities.

“As a mayor in charge of a police department for 14 years, I understand that these kinds of resources are important for communities,” Fetterman said.

Ryan Deto is a TribLive reporter covering politics, Pittsburgh and Allegheny County news. A native of California’s Bay Area, he joined the Trib in 2022 after spending more than six years covering Pittsburgh at the Pittsburgh City Paper, including serving as managing editor. He can be reached at rdeto@triblive.com.