Delaware Commission Urges Police Departments to Adopt Model Guid - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Commission Urges Police Departments to Adopt Model Guidelines

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This is the body camera currently being used by the Millsboro Police Department (Source: WBOC) This is the body camera currently being used by the Millsboro Police Department (Source: WBOC)
This video was shot by a Millsboro Police Department Body Camera (Source: Millsboro Police) This video was shot by a Millsboro Police Department Body Camera (Source: Millsboro Police)

DELAWARE - Law enforcement agencies across Delaware are being urged to adopt new policies in regards to "Body Worn Cameras." The guidelines were released on Wednesday by a group of police officers and lawmakers, after working on the policies for nearly six months. The guidelines would be non-binding for the seven departments, currently using body cameras. 

The guidelines state that the cameras should be used in one of three situations: 

- All instances where an arrest or detention is likely. 

- All instances where the use of force is likely. 

- Any other incident where the safety of people and property in Delaware is promoted.

The guidelines also allow for officers to "consider, where appropriate, the expressed desire of a victim or witness when deciding whether to record an event."

The guidelines give the example of speaking to a victim of sexual assault or a confidential informant, as a time when turning off the camera may be appropriate. Ocean View Police Chief Kenneth McLaughlin said keeping the cameras rolling can help protect both the community members and the police officer. 

"We've seen great benefit with the body cameras here," he said. "In fact, our officers are almost refusing to work without one." 

The six page report was crafted in collaboration with lawmakers, the Delaware Police Chief's Council, the Delaware Fraternal Order of Police, the Delaware State Troopers Association, the Office of The Attorney General, and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. McLaughlin said that the guidelines would help bring "uniformity" to departments across the state. 

"This is going to be a foundation," he said. "Gives some basic guidelines for them to follow. The new agencies that are just getting on board with this." 

In Millsboro, officers use "Watch Guard" cameras, and Chief Brian Calloway said that the cameras are turned on whenever an officer makes contact with a community member. 

"If you have some sort of equipment," he said. "You need to have policy that regulates how you use that equipment. So I"m in favor of having guidelines so we all can also have transparency within our community." 

Maryland Guidelines: 

In Maryland, there is a set of minimum standards, that all agencies using body cameras must meet. This policy was issued by the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission. Unlike in Delaware, these guidelines are not optional.

 According to the Maryland standards, officers using body cameras must turn them on for any activity that is "investigative or enforcement in nature," as well as for any encounter that becomes confrontational.

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