Police Body Cameras: To Return In February

Dec 21, 2015

Police Officers (from left) Gregory Twigg, Alan Chanoine and Hannah Parrish from the Central, Eastern and Western districts modeling in October the body cameras that were tested during a 54-day pilot program. Commissioner Kevin Davis said the department will pick a camera vendor in February.
Credit P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said Monday that officers will be without body cameras for a couple of months as an evaluation committee decides which of the three cameras used in a pilot program to go with.  A camera vendor is expected to be picked in February.

A pilot program that took place in three patrol districts – Central, Eastern and Western - ended Friday.

Davis said the officers who participated in the program have gotten used to wearing the cameras over 54 days.

“Apparently, we had a couple of police officers who were turning in their body-worn cameras and they were asking ‘when can we get these back,” Davis said.  He added that the cameras brought the department “one step closer to the transparency we need and the trust we need to build with our community.”

The pilot program involved 155 officers who tested cameras by Panasonic, Taser and Vie-Vu.

Davis said they still have to work out some “behind the scenes” issues – like data retrieval and what not to release.

The other challenge: getting officers used to the technology; i.e. turn on the camera.

“There would be several times when officers would be in the middle of a call; then while in the call, they would remember to turn it on,” said police Maj. Kimberly Burrus, head of Planning and Research.  She said officers also need to get used to categorizing footage as well.

Davis said he has seen “several” video clips from the cameras and that officers have  told him that people they’ve interacted with previously began acting differently once the cameras came on.

“That seems to be a phenomenon associated with the body worn cameras,” he said.  “If everyone knows that their words, their behaviors and their actions are being captured on video, it just compels humans to act differently.”  

Baltimore Police released two videos from the body camera pilot program.