It’s been several years in the works, but starting this week most police officers in Maryland’s Howard County are now equipped with body worn cameras.
Following a test program four years ago, all the pieces are finally in place — all the equipment has been obtained, officers have been trained and additional staff has been put in place to process the video recordings of interactions between police and members of the public.
“Starting today, our 300 uniformed officers will be wearing body worn cameras. In the coming year, we expect remaining nonuniform officers will also be equipped. By policy, our officers will activate cameras for all legitimate law enforcement purposes,” said Howard County Police Chief Gregory Der during a Monday briefing.
The county’s camera system will even guard against any officer forgetting to turn on the camera. The body worn cameras are automatically activated when an officer engages the emergency equipment in a patrol car, when an officer activates a Taser or when an officer removes a firearm from its holster.
County Executive Calvin Ball said the new body worn camera program were part of police reforms underway for the past few years.
“We’ve established a police accountability board which, along with our body worn camera program, is providing an unprecedented level of accountability and transparency,” said Ball.
Der added that research has clearly shown that these video cameras are a great policing tool.
“Body worn cameras can help increase public confidence in policing. And, studies from the Justice Department show, these programs actually reduce the number of complaints and allegations made against police officers and fewer use of force reports,” said Der.