New law sets the stage for police body cameras in Maryland

Earlier this month, we discussed how the Department of Justice was rolling out a $20 million pilot program designed to equip police departments across the nation with officer-worn body cameras.

This DOJ announcement was made shortly after Baltimore was thrust into the national spotlight due to the citywide marches held to protest the death of Freddie Gray, and the issue of police misconduct — especially the use of brutal or deadly force — in general.

As encouraging as this action by the DOJ was, it’s important to note that progress is also being made closer to home on this issue.

That’s because just two weeks ago, Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill into law calling for the creation of a government commission tasked with 1) devising guidelines governing the use of body cameras by state law enforcement agencies and 2) proposing methods for funding the camera program ultimately created.

Experts indicate that the bill, which was actually passed before the aforementioned protests in Baltimore, is the first step in making video equipment the norm here in Maryland.

It’s worth noting that this wasn’t the only bill signed by Gov. Hogan designed to enhance transparency and create greater accountability on the part of law enforcement. Indeed, he also signed a bill introducing mandatory reporting requirements whereby all police departments must report to state officials concerning police-involved fatalities, and another bill that would see more police cases in Baltimore subject to review by the City Civilian Review Board.

It’s highly encouraging to see our state lawmakers taking this issue very seriously and laying the groundwork for real change.

Do you agree with these actions or do you think we need to see greater changes introduced on a narrower timetable?

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