Baltimore Commissioner Wants Camera Program by End of Year - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Baltimore Commissioner Wants Camera Program by End of Year

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Body cameras on officers won't solve every conflict between law enforcement and the communities they protect, but they are a step in the right direction, Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said Friday.

Batts shared his thoughts on body cameras with the Baltimore City Delegation in Annapolis, saying he would push hard to implement a six-month pilot program for the city by year's end.

"Body cameras are not a panacea, they're a starting point, a good way to build a foundation," said Batts, who was chief of the Oakland, California, Police Department, which had a body camera program. "You have to have the proper training. Police departments still have to be part of communities. They have to be seen as a helping assistant part, not as an occupying army."

Earlier this week a mayoral task force recommended the pilot program for Baltimore, which would put body cameras on 100 police officers.

The task force, formed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, determined a body camera program would cost the city between $5.5 million and $7.9 million per year depending on the type of cameras chosen and the number of officers who wear them. Baltimore has about 1,500 patrol officers.

Batts said while Oakland police were able to make gains in public trust, there was also a lot of work associated with filling public information requests for camera footage, as well as added costs for data storage and program infrastructure.

Batts said he did not know where in Baltimore the program would be implemented, but planned to review the task force's recommendations with his executive team.

Growing distrust and hostility between the public and police, fueled in part by events such as the police-involved shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, have refocused attention on body cameras as a form of protection and accountability.


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