Personal Cameras Worn by Officers Face Some Criticism

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    NEWSLETTERS

    News4's Chris Gordon reports on "personal wear cameras" used by the Laurel Police Department for training and investigative purposes. (Published Monday, Aug 19, 2013)

    Although Laurel Police officers are excited about using mounted cameras on a daily basis, some residents are worried about another privacy wall breaking.

    The cameras provide a play-by-play of police interaction with potential criminals in a much more detailed manner than traditional dashboard cameras.

    Laurel Police Officer Matt Jordan told News4 he downloads the video to his phone, where it is stored on a police department server. Jordan said the camera is valuable for training, helps him write accurate reports and could be used as evidence.

    "It's led to a reduction of use of force complaints and any other complaints against officers," Jordan said. "The video can be reviewed by command staff, internal affairs, anything like that, and they can see what actually happened on the street."

    However, some residents are concerned about a level of privacy being taken away with the new technology.

    "Is it even legal to be able to record somebody without their written consent?" Laurel resident Jalleh Nejad asked.

    The privacy issue is even more pertinent this year. San Francisco firefighters used the cameras while responding to a passenger jet crash, during which a Chinese student was run over by a vehicle and killed.

    Laurel Police Assistant Chief James Brooks said police are different than firefighters in regard to privacy issues.

    "As long as we're within the public domain, we're okay with actually video taping anything that the officers may encounter," Brooks said.

    The Laurel Police Department is the largest police agency on the East Coast using the cameras, and are hoping to buy even more in the near future.

    "We're excited about the program," Laurel Police Information Director Pete Piringer said. "The mayor and city council are very supportive of it and I anticipate in the very near future that every officer in the department, which we have about 75 or 80 officers or so, every officer will have a camera in the very near future.