By: Baltimore County Now, News You Can Use
Police Training Commission to Develop Policy and Procedures
County Executive Kevin Kamenetz expressed his appreciation to Governor Larry Hogan for signing SB 482/HB 533, which was sponsored on behalf of the Kamenetz Administration to clarify issues relating to the County’s proposed use of cameras on police officers and Taser weapons.
“Under Maryland’s existing wiretap law,” said Kamenetz, “there was some concern whether our cameras could record audio without being in conflict of the state’s two-party consent rule. With this Bill, it clarifies that a police officer may utilize both video and audio in the course of official police duties. While there are still some details to be resolved as a result of late amendments to the Bill, we appreciate that the Governor signed this important measure into law. We are grateful as well to our County delegation members, and particularly Delegate Charles Sydnor and Senator Kathy Klausmeier for sponsoring this bill on our behalf.”
Recent Use of Taser Cameras
Baltimore County Police officers recently began using Tasers equipped with cameras that automatically record all events from the moment the Taser is removed from its case. A departmental committee is currently finalizing a study of the complex issues surrounding implementation of police body electronic devices. Kamenetz has previously indicated his support of the use of body cameras, pending receipt of the police department report, which is due in the next ninety days.
The amendments to the Bill signed by Governor Hogan require the Police Training Commission to develop a policy and procedures for the issuance and use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement officers, and also establishes a commission to study and make recommendations.
Protecting the Rights of Citizens and Officers
“This Bill is necessary to carve out an exception to the two-party consent law in Maryland, said Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson. “This will allow officers to record their interactions with the public during their official duties if Baltimore County were to decide to use the body camera.”
“We’re pleased this piece of legislation passed and was signed into law because it allows us to at least examine what role video and audio recordings could have in Baltimore County,” said Baltimore County States Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
“Given the current events that have taken place all across the country, and particularly in Maryland, I can think of no better time than now to implement the use of video and audio devices by our law enforcement officers to aid in ensuring that our officers and citizens’ rights are protected,” said Baltimore County Delegate Charles Sydnor of District 44B.