Wicomico County Agencies Look to Add Officer Body Cameras - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico County Agencies Look to Add Officer Body Cameras

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SALISBURY, Md.- The officer-involved shooting earlier this month in Ferguson, Mo. has sparked conversation all across the country. That includes talk of equipping police officers with body cameras. It is something some agencies in Wicomico County are already doing. Meantime, others hope to do the same.

“The camera here will record everything in the field of view in front of the police car,” explained Lt. Tim Robinson while showing us one of the in-car cameras used by the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office.

The cameras are considered a valuable investigative tool.

“It is the best, non-biased witness you can ever have, on any call,” noted Sheriff Mike Lewis.

There is just one problem:

“Ours are extremely outdated,” Sheriff Lewis explained.

They are also costly to replace, at about $5,000 a pop, Lewis said.

“Whereas body cams are considerably cheaper and more affordable, at about $600 per person, or even cheaper,” he said.

Friday, WBOC had the chance to take a look at one of 15 body cameras implemented by the Fruitland Police Department in November of last year.

“The cameras can capture violations, suspect statements, and it just helps to play out the incident in court, because you can see it exactly as it occurs, rather than just reading it,” explained Sgt. Dan Holland of the Fruitland Police Department.

“It's accountability on both sides,” Sgt. Holland added. “The citizens, on their part, people tend to behave differently when they're being recorded. And also on the police, to make sure that they're doing everything the way they should be, because they know it's on camera.”

That is just one of the reasons the department started equipping officers with the recording devices. It is also one of the reasons the sheriff's office wants to do the same.

“If you're doing everything legally, lawfully and constitutionally sound as a police officer, you have absolutely nothing to hide about wearing a body cam,” said Sheriff Lewis.

People WBOC spoke with agree.

“I think it's a very good idea,” remarked Louis Betro. “I think it protects both parties, because if everything is done correctly, then there's no problem.”

“I'd rather have someone with a camera so they can see everything that's going on, so nothing would be misunderstood,” Vincent Ryder added.

Sheriff Lewis said if it is in the budget, he hopes to have the body cameras in place in the near future.   

The Salisbury Police Department is also looking into them and, according to Chief Barbara Duncan, plans to integrate them as well.

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