Baltimore County Police Consider Body Cameras

By John Rydell

Baltimore County Police are exploring whether its patrol officers should be equipped with body cameras.

In the wake of a series of highly publicized police involved shootings around the country, Baltimore County is one of many local jurisdictions studying the feasibility of utilizing the tiny cameras.

Body cameras have been used by police officers in Laurel, Maryland for more than two years.

The Baltimore Police Department is developing a pilot program for some of its officers to use body cameras later this year.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who supports body cameras, directed Police Chief Jim Johnson to conduct a feasibility study of utilizing body cameras.

A spokeswoman for Chief Johnson says the 100-page report has been completed but not yet submitted to County Executive Kamenetz.

During a recent budget briefing, Johnson raised questions about whether patrol officers would have to have body cameras turned on at all times during their shift.

Police Spokeswoman Elise Armacost says, "The implementation of any body camera program and especially a program in a jurisdiction as large as ours is an extremely complicated and can be an expensive proposition."

Armacost says police are exploring how much equipping police officers with body cameras would cost along with many other logistical issues.

"We'll be examining all of the angles, everything from the kinds of technologies that are involved, to the privacy issues, to the public information issues, to the operation issues," said Armacost.

Delegate Charles Sydnor, III, a Democrat who represents Baltimore County, supports body cameras.

"I think what it does is it brings a sense of civility to the police, citizen interaction," said Sydnor, who sponsored a bill signed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan this week which seeks to clear a legal hurdle for implementing the tiny cameras.

The bill exempts police use of body cameras from Maryland's wiretap law which requires consent from two parties consent for the recording of audio of another person in a public place.

Police Spokeswoman Elise Armacost says, "This is very much a work in progress and it's something we're approaching very deliberately because it is such a massive undertaking."

Police Chief Jim Johnson is expected to submit his report on the feasibility of implementing body cameras to County Executive Kamenetz sometime this summer.

original article