Police Body Camera Commission Explores Best Practices

The Commission Regarding the Implementation and Use of Body Cameras by Law Enforcement held a day-long meeting on Tuesday, September 1, to explore the best practices for police body cameras. Commission members took a close look at a number of topics including:

  • Circumstances requiring camera activation
  • Cessation of recordings
  • Notification
  • Confidentiality
  • Storage and maintenance of recordings
  • Review and retention of recordings
  • Dissemination and release of recordings
  • Training and discipline
  • Privacy

Commission members thoroughly debated each topic and proposed amendments to tailor a working document of best practice proposals to the needs and concerns of the State. Each issue went to a vote.

Commission members tabled the discussion of storage and maintenance of recordings as the technical nature of proposed amendments required additional study of the matter. Members will vote on storage and maintenance best practices at a later date.

The issue of dissemination and release of recordings generated significant discussion. As previously reported on Conduit Street, access to public records was one issue the Commission decided they were not going to address. This was an important issue MACo testified on during the legislative session. The Chairman had noted at the previous commission meeting that the Maryland Public Information Act governs public disclosure, and that camera footage is considered a public record under the act. Consequently changes to the law were deemed outside the scope of the Commission’s power and would require an act of the legislature.

Before concluding Tuesday’s meeting the Commission voted to include with their best practices report a letter to the General Assembly advising them to consider conducting a review of the MPIA as it relates to body worn cameras and whether any changes to the current law are needed to address privacy concerns.

The Commission’s report to the Maryland Police Training Commission (MPTC) and the General Assembly on the best practices for the use of body cameras by a law enforcement officer is due by October 1, 2015.

Additional Coverage:

Maryland Panel Wants Law Changed to Restrict Body Camera Footage (The Washington Post)