The Department is doing this as a pilot program.
Frederick, Md. (KM) Something new has been added to some Frederick Police Officers uniforms. The Department began using body-worn cameras on Tuesday morning. “We’re able to purchase 18 cameras in total,” says Chief Ed Hargis. “So with our six patrol squads, each patrol squad will have three cameras assigned to it for the pilot project that we’re running.”
He says that only three officers on each shift will wear the cameras.
The Chief says officers will activate the cameras during most interactions with the public, such as traffic stops. “Prior to the officer turning the camera on, they will give an introduction that ‘I’m Officer—state the name—from the Frederick City Police Department and that this contact is going to be video and audio recorded.’ So that’s when a citizen will know that the camera has been activated,” he says.
The Department will download the video and audio at evidence.com, which will be stored for 90 before they can be erased, unless it’s been tagged for evidence or administrative retention.
The Chief says, in some instances, the public will have the opportunity to view the video from the body-worn cameras. “We will release video based on public information requests. The videos will actually go through a redaction process, background images, and what have you, people who are not actually involved in the contact,” he says.
Even though the Department is using these cameras as part of a pilot program, Chief Hargis says they will be a benefit. “Nationwide, there are fewer citizens complaints because of the cameras that are taking place,” he said. “And it is said that the officer’s behavior is better as well as the citizen’s behavior once they’re notified that a camera is there and it’s recording. So I think it’s going to benefit the officers as well as the citizens.”
He says the Department will reviewing how these cameras are working in Frederick before deciding whether to purchase additional body-worn cameras.
By Kevin McManus