Howard Co. executive pushes council to release money for police body-worn cameras

The money for a body-worn camera program for police officers in Howard County, Maryland, could be coming soon.

A pilot program for body-worn cameras ended in 2018, but full implementation was delayed for a lack of money. It was in the fiscal 2022 budget, but, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said, “We learned that the state mandated Maintenance of Effort funding level for a school system was significantly higher than anticipated.”

The funding was put aside by the Howard County Council, but on Monday, Ball said that he’s “pleased to announce that we are filing a budget amendment” to ask the County Council to release the money.

If the council votes in early October to release the money, the program can start right away.

About a half-million dollars for the program is in contingency, along with $1.6 million in American Rescue Plan money that can be to implement the program right away if the council votes in early October to release the money.

“Through the use of federal funding, we can fund our body-worn camera program immediately following Council approval of our budget amendment,” Ball said. “This essential program can finally move forward – and provide another layer of safety and security for our officers and our community. I am confident that the usage of body-worn cameras will generate a mutually beneficial relationship that will serve our officers and our residents while upholding transparency and justice.”

There is also $1 million already set in the budget for the program as well.

“This has been a long and sometimes frustrating process, roughly six years in the making,” Ball said.

The total cost will be $3.1 million to provide 600 cameras for about 300 Howard County officers; the hiring of 26 essential positions across the Police Department, State’s Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office; expanded storage capacity and new software for the implementation, and new equipment for deputies in the sheriff’s department.

“Police accountability is a fundamental tenet of our agency and these new body-worn cameras will contribute to that commitment,” said Police Chief Lisa Myers.

The program will provide cameras to uniformed officers who have direct and regular contact with the public.

“We know that the body-worn camera is a tool that has the ability to protect the truth — the truth of what occurs in our community,” said State’s Attorney Rich Gibson.

The police department anticipates using the vendor from its one-year pilot program, Axon.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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