Md. Police Department Full Steam Ahead With Deploying Body Cameras

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Montgomery County will soon have almost all of its uniformed officers wearing body cameras when out on patrol. So far, 745 cameras have been deployed and by July, the department hopes to have 850 of its officers equipped with the devices.

“Seeing [an incident] from the very beginning to the very end with a body camera is an a lot more accurate portrayal of what actually happened,” said Assistant Police Chief Luther Reynolds with the Montgomery County Police Department.

Reynolds told the community organization Safe Silver Spring at the Long Branch Community Center on Monday that preliminarily, the cameras are helping with evidence collection and with the convictions of suspects.

Once the program is ironed out, the department hopes it will make it easier for lawyers and the courts to move forward on cases, because there will be a video evidence to refer to.

“We think eventually it’s gonna make court more efficient,” said Captain Mark Plazinski.

Reynolds says the cameras are also helping to de-escalate events, because the knowledge of a video recording can cause suspects and officers to modify their behavior.

In most cases officers will announce to individuals that they are being recorded. Members of the public have a right to ask the officer not to record them, but the officer will be able to use his or her own discretion when deciding if they will comply.

One of the biggest struggles for the department will be storing the video. Since its launch, there are 58,000 body camera videos being stored so far, which is taking up 11 terabytes of space.

The questions from residents ranged from how long videos will be stored to who will be able to access the video.

As it is currently set up, officers are only allowed to access their own videos, and the amount of time it takes before a video is deleted depends on what sort of event the video shows.

“I think it can be extremely useful both from the public’s point of view so they can assure there is no police misconduct and a great tool for the police department in providing evidence of criminal behavior,” said Tony Hausner, chair of Safe Silver Spring.

Reynolds and Plazinski both said the cameras are also being well received by officers. Among the benefit for the first responders — the ability to quickly dispel false claims by members of the public and allow officers to improve their techniques in the field.

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