Body Worn Cameras Basics
Body worn cameras (BWC) are quickly becoming standard-issue equipment for law enforcement officers throughout the United States. Not only do the cameras serve as useful tools for recording evidence, more importantly, they promote professionalism, accountability, and transparency by documenting officer performance and interactions with the public.
The Baltimore Police Department began the rollout of its BWC program on May 26, 2016, pursuant to an exhaustive procurement process, including pilot testing of three different BWC models. The five-year contract for the program, including equipment, storage, and maintenance, is $11,600,000.
Within two years (2018), every sworn member of the police department will be outfitted with a BWC. Thus far, officers and supervisors assigned to each of the nine patrol districts as well as specialized enforcement units from the Operational Investigations Division and the Special Operations & Development Division have been issued body worn cameras.
What Are the Cameras Recording?
In just the first six months of the department's BWC program, officers captured over 133,000 discrete videos with over 23,400 hours of recording. Included in these videos were more than 95,000 calls for service, 15,300 car stops, and 15,900 arrests. As part of the discovery process, almost 4,900 cases were turned over to the Office of the State's Attorney for prosecution of various criminal offenses.
The Baltimore Police Department takes very seriously any officer conduct that casts the department and its members in an unfavorable light. While all but a very small percentage of videos show officers performing their duties professionally and constitutionally, the department's review of BWC video has found some instances of possible misconduct. In the first six months of the department's BWC program, 47 videos were forwarded to the Internal Affairs Section for further review and investigation of possible officer misconduct.