Last Friday we spoke with Chief Thomas Nestel III, the senior law enforcement officer of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) Police, responsible for what he terms “the safety of a city of a million people in transit.” Nestel recently rolled out a pilot body-worn camera program to evaluate the technology’s use by officers in the city’s transit system. We spoke to the Chief about initial impressions of the cameras, as well as wider policing and civil liberties issues, and a bit of his experience utilizing the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center (which he refers to as the DVIC, pronounced ‘div-ik’), Philadelphia’s fusion center.
Chief Nestel also clarified the transit police’s position on the new Philadelphia marijuana decriminalization ordinance, explaining that SEPTA police will operate under the same guidelines as Philadelphia city officers, except that rather than retaining, testing, and storing confiscated contraband, the SEPTA officers will destroy it on scene.
A brief profile of the Chief, via the University of Pennsylvania Department of Criminal Justice:
Thomas J. Nestel, III currently serves as the Chief of SEPTA Transit Police . Prior to his appointment as Chief, he dedicated 22 years to the Philadelphia Police Department where he attained the rank of Staff Inspector and gained experience in a variety of policing functions. Nestel has conducted extensive research on the use of public domain surveillance systems (CCTV) and assisted in the authoring of the operating policy to guide Philadelphia’s program. He has also conducted several studies to determine the effectiveness of red light camera systems on intersection safety. Nestel has earned Masters Degrees from Saint Joseph’s University, the United States Naval Postgraduate School, and the University of Pennsylvania.[youtube http://youtu.be/EbONmaeMLa8]