Plans following BPD body cam pilot

Posted at 6:31 PM, Dec 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-21 18:31:43-05

The Baltimore Police Department released three clips from body worn cameras today, one from every district involved in the pilot program which ended Friday.

In the video from the Eastern District, you can see an officer responding to a complaint of drug activity.

"My name is Officer Simpson with the Baltimore city Police Department. I have to advise you that our interaction is being recorded,” you see the officer say.

No arrests are made, no reports filed, but merely an example to see how these cameras work on the officer and when they are used.

"It has brought our agency one step closer to the transparency that we need, the trust we need to build with our community, the two way respect that we need to push public safety forward in Baltimore," Commissioner Kevin

Davis said of the pilot program ending.

Next, the BPD will choose which camera fits Baltimore best.

Police will make that decision in the coming months by studying the feedback from the 155 officers who helped test the cameras and compare those notes with the proposals from the three vendors.

It is a decision that will be made in February as will tweaks and changes to the department's policy regarding the use.

So far, remembering to start the recording was an issue at times, but Major Kimberly Burrus says, it did get better.

"Muscle memory. They had to get used to it. There were several times where the officers would be in the middle of a call and then while in the call they remembered to turn on, but as time got better, they got better," Burrus said.

Getting better is a department goal not just for the usage of these cameras, but the action of the officers.

The commissioner said the department will also use these recordings for surprise inspections; making sure officers are engaging respectfully with citizens.

"When we see an officer engaged in misconduct we will initiate that investigation ourselves. Undoubtedly there will be some behaviors over time caught on camera that we are going to want to investigate as an organization," Davis said.

The rules and regulations for camera use will be hashed out in the coming months.

New general orders and procedures on body worn cameras at the BPD will be issued as these cameras are issued.

Davis says that will begin to happen in 2016, but it could take two budget cycles before everyone that needs them in the department, gets them.