Equipping all police with body cameras is an idea gaining proponents around the country, after the killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., was followed by two very different accounts of what happened. The concept isn’t exactly new to Maryland. Del. Frank Conaway floated the idea in 2012 after a spate of deaths in police custody. And they’ve actually been doing it in Laurel for years. But the idea is back in the air, and at a recent public safety forum Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said that Baltimore is “taking a look at” the policy.
According to the Baltimore Business Journal she was less than gung-ho. “I can think of a hundred ways that could be useful,” she said. “I can also think of 101 that it could potentially be a privacy issue that I don’t think any of us want to sign up for.” Still, she said the city is looking at how jurisdictions that already use body cameras handle privacy issues.
If we went ahead with it, it would be a real culture change for Baltimore police, who have been notoriously camera-shy. Even after two years of having a standing order to allow the public to videotape them, Baltimore cops were still reportedly erasing video off cell phones, and even “push[ing] away” a Baltimore Sun photographer. In March the rule was made more explicit.
In Laurel, the cameras cost $2,000 apiece.
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