Possible New Md. Regulations on Police Body Cam Video - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Possible New Md. Regulations on Police Body Cam Video

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Sunglass-mounted body camera worn by a Fruitland police officer. (Photo: WBOC) Sunglass-mounted body camera worn by a Fruitland police officer. (Photo: WBOC)

WICOMICO COUNTY, Md.- A commission put together by Gov. Larry Hogan is urging the Maryland General Assembly to take a look at possible new regulations for the release of police body camera video to the public.

The Commission Regarding the Implementation and Use of Body Cameras by Law Enforcement Officers released a report which said the General Assembly should consider changes to the Maryland Public Information Act that would restrict the release of police body cam video that depicts things like domestic violence or victims of violent crimes.

In Wicomico County, the Fruitland Police Department is in its second year of body camera use by its police officers.  Officers in Fruitland tell WBOC wearing the body cameras has become the norm and wearing the technology has already paid off in many situations.

"We've been able to dispel a few complaints with them.  We don't get a lot of complaints anyway but a few that we've had, a couple people have left upon finding out the whole thing was recorded on body camera," said Lt. Brian Swafford.

Swafford said that in Fruitland there have no been many public information act requests made for body cam video, but even before any new possible regulations, there are already instances in which video cannot be released.

"There might be bystanders uninvolved in the call that were actually recorded on video.  There could be juveniles and there could be other sensitive things that we just can't edit out so it has to be there," Swafford said Wednesday.

Swafford added that none of the officers in Fruitland have had any complaints about the body cameras and enjoy wearing them because it allows the officers to prove they are doing their jobs correctly.

When it comes to the new possible rules and regulations regarding the release of body camera footage, the commission believes the restrictions would help protect the privacy of people depicted in the videos.  Limiting the access of those videos to the public, including the media, by altering Maryland's PIA. However, some WBOC viewers believe new restrictions would go to far.

"I prefer also to watch those videos simply because I do think there are checks and balances in our government and we need those checks and balances," said Erika Ewing of Salisbury.

The debate will be left up to Maryland's lawmakers when the General Assembly is back in session beginning in mid-January.

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