2 councilmen to file bill requiring city police to wear body cameras

Councilmen Warren Branch, Jack Young want police interactions with the public recorded

September 22, 2014|Luke Broadwater | The Baltimore Sun

Two City Councilmen plan to submit legislation today requiring every police officer in Baltimore to wear a body camera that records audio and video as the officers go about their jobs.

Warren Branch, chairman of the council's public safety committee, and Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young's proposal would permit the Baltimore Police Department to phase-in use of the body cameras during the first year after the bill, if approved, becomes law.

The bill comes amid a series of high-profile allegations of police misconduct in Baltimore and around the country.

In a statement, Young said investing in the cameras could save the city money by potentially reducing costly settlements from police misconduct cases.

"The majority of our officers are hard-working and respectful," he said. "But too often we allow a handful of bad apples to taint our entire department."

In November, a $285,000 consultant's report to the Baltimore Police Department recommended Commissioner Anthony Batts begin a body-worn camera trial here. Such a trial in Rialto, Calif., found that use of the cameras "drastically reduced" officers' use of force and complaints against police, according to the report. But the cameras also received complaints from citizens and officers over "privacy concerns," the report said.

"It is crucial that any plan to introduce cameras moves slowly and gains 'buy-in' from officers and the community," the reported stated.

Batts implemented a body-camera program in Oakland, Calif., during his previous job as a police commissioner.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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