Police Body Camera

Frederick Police Officer Brian Lucas displays a new body camera that he was issued and used for the first time Tuesday morning while on patrol. The department purchased 18 cameras and hopes to deploy three on each patrol squad.

The Frederick Police Department became the latest department to roll out body-worn cameras to its patrol officers Tuesday.

Earlier this year, the department bought 18 Taser International Axon model body cameras and the software needed to run them for $30,420, the majority of which was funded by a federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grant. The first officer equipped with a camera began his patrol at 7 a.m. Tuesday, with the goal of having multiple officers wearing cameras during each patrol shift, said Lt. Dennis Dudley.

"All of the cameras will be active by the end of the week," Dudley said. "There's three on each patrol squad and there's six patrol squads covering seven days a week, so not everybody's working at the same time, but the goal is to have three on each squad."

Another three cameras were to be handed out to officers Tuesday evening, followed by three more when the midnight shift begins, Dudley said.

Commanders and supervisors with the department have embraced the addition of the chest-mounted cameras to the force, arguing that the cameras will only help the perception of police and officers' conduct while on patrol. 

“We have confidence that our officers are doing the right thing every day and that the use of these cameras will highlight the level of professionalism that our officers display during our daily interactions with our community,” Police Chief Ed Hargis said in a statement.

The mere presence of the cameras, which the department's policy requires officers to announce whenever reasonable, will also help officers avoid potentially dangerous confrontations, Dudley added.

"It calms the situation. A lot of people change their tone when they realize there's a camera recoding the incident — the public as well as the individual talking to the officer," Dudley said.

Officers who are wearing the cameras will activate them when coming in lawful contact with the public and during investigations.

When interacting with an officer, members of the public will be greeted with, “I’m Officer [insert name] of the Frederick Police Department. For your safety as well as my own this encounter is being video and audio recorded,” according to a department news release citing the official policy outlined in General Order 385.

Recordings from these cameras will be kept for 90 days before being erased, unless the recording has been tagged as evidence or flagged for some other reason.

Minor updates were also made to the department's general orders before the cameras were issued Tuesday, including tweaking language on who is allowed to flag certain footage, Dudley said.

While both patrol officers and supervisors will be able to flag a camera's footage as evidence or for use in addressing a possible complaint by a member of the public, some categories will be available only to supervisors, such as footage specifically detailing use of force or footage involving an injury to an officer, Dudley said. Officers and supervisors will also have to account for viewing any footage.

"Whenever you view a video you have to put a note in stating what the purpose of your viewing was, like 'I wrote a report,' or 'I used it for training or a review for performance,' that sort of thing," Dudley said.

The department also discovered a mute button for the cameras during its pilot period of testing the cameras, Dudley said, explaining that the general orders — which are available in full on the department's website — were also amended to include when officers could engage that function as well.

Follow Jeremy Arias on Twitter: @Jarias_Prime.

Jeremy Arias is the Frederick city and government reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

(11) comments

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

Break out the popcorn. This will be like watching the TV show "Cops". We'll all get to see how stupid these criminals are.[lol]

BlueDawn666

these body cams will change nothing. Now our murders will be recorded and available for public viewing....if they even remember to turn them on OR even better we could be like North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C. — When Gov. Pat McCrory appeared on CNN Wednesday night, he was pressed by host Don Lemon about North Carolina's new body camera law, which will soon require a court order to release footage from police recordings.

"Why not release it to the public, though?" Lemon asked asked McCrory about the pending law.

"Don, I've got to respect the constitutional rights of our police officers and also the investigation," McCrory replied.

Lemon pressed back, "What about the constitutional rights of the citizens, though?"


Read more at http://www.wral.com/new-nc-body-camera-law-will-mean-court-order-required-for-police-video-release/16037830/#X4js3gKQcxy9Xa6t.99

So really these body cams will change nothing...

m21701m

I think both officer and community demeanor will change with something like this. Especially if the FCPD releases video of high stress interactions. This will give the armchair public a real life view of what goes on in both the job of an officer and citizens.

DickD

Body cameras are a two way street, they might help all they might not help at all. They will modify interaction between the police and anyone they stop, it remains to be seen if this is good.

DisabledFrederickVeteran

America is proficient in the art of allowing illegal immigration, illegal drug importation, massive incarceration and allowing the disproportionate execution of people of color.

DickD

DFV, how does this address body cameras worn by police? SMH

Fredmd21704

DFV just wants to interject illegals into every thread.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

DFV - what is the proportion of people of color killed by other people of color compared to people of color killed by whites?

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

Few want to talk about that inconvenient truth, it's easier to blame non-people of color for everything.

cldeboin

Body cams and community policing can only improve all efforts to be transparent,
and enhance integrity, and truthfulness in all areas of Frederick County and beyond.

Whatsup

In all sincerity, I hope these are found to be beneficial to all parties.

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