Activists Demand All Prince George's Officers Wear Body Cams

For years, the Prince George's County Police Department has considered using body cameras. Now some community activists are asking what's the hold up and want the county to take up legislation to make the cameras mandatory.

"It's something the District of Columbia has, it's something that Montgomery County has and we feel that the citizens of Prince George's County are just as valuable," said Cheryl Fellenz, a member of local activist group Community Justice.

Fellenz and other activists say they want body cameras on every Prince George's County police officer.

The department has talked about cameras since 2015 and worked with the University of Maryland to study the impact of cameras on officers and citizens.

Four years later, body worn cameras are still not mandatory for the county's police department.

"It's not even just the residents that should be worried. It should be anybody that's driving through Prince George's County," Co-found of Community Justice Kema Harris said.

Community Justice has worked with county Councilmember Deni Tavaras and Casa de Maryland to draft new legislation requiring body cameras for every officer.

But the group was told council members won't consider the bill this session.

"It felt like a lot of hard work gone down the drain," Harris said.

As it stands, 80 of the county's 1,500 officers have cameras as part of a 3-year-old pilot program.

Council Chair Todd Turner says more review is needed, not legislation.

"There is a fiscal implication for doing a full program and I think we'd have to speak with the chief about whether it needs to be ramped up in certain kinds of ways and that's a conversation that we need to have, and I think we're willing to have," Turner said.

But the police department says it's advocated for body cameras for years and just needs the funding.

"There is X amount of money to go around. That's sort of the challenge we've been facing over the past several years, but we're hoping that, eventually soon - sooner than later - the money is able to be freed up and we'll be able to get cameras on our officers," said Jennifer Donelan, spokesperson for the Prince George's County Police Department.

A spokesperson for Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks says Alsobrooks is in favor of body cameras and the office's plan is to phase them in over the next few budget cycles.

Community activists say they plan to continue to pressure county leaders to implement the cameras sooner.

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