City Police Body Camera Launch Is Delayed – Baltimore Sun
City police body camera launch is delayed Department begins process of ‘training the trainers’
By Jessica Anderson
The Baltimore Sun The rollout of an $11.6 million program to equip 2,500 Baltimore police officers with body cameras will begin about a month later than officials had previously announced.
The first 500 officers will start wearing the body-worn cameras at the end of this month at the earliest, Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith said Wednesday. In March, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the program would begin May 1.“This is the fault of us as an administration,” Smith said, adding that the May 1 date “might have been a bit premature.”
The department began receiving cameras this week and has started “training the trainers,” Smith said. Officers must undergo eight hours of training before wearing the cameras.Smith said special units, such as the command staff and the Special Investigations Response Team, or SIRT, which investigates shootings by officers and deaths in police custody, will be trained first, followed by the first group of 500 officers.Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday that her focus is making sure the program is implemented properly. She did not say what caused the delay.
“You can’t get exact dates to get your bathroom redone,” Rawlings-Blake said. “This is a major undertaking, a citywide undertaking of getting police cameras, and [we] want to make sure we get it right.“I set a goal for my team [for] the first week of May. We’re not doing it the first week of May,” she said.
The Police Department plans to roll out the cameras in five stages — 500 officers at a time — with a goal of equipping all 2,500 officers by January 2018.Smith said he does not expect the rest of the rollout schedule to change.
The city selected Taser International to supply the cameras and provide cloud storage for the footage. The company was selected after a two-month pilot program late last year in which 150 officers wore one of three different cameras in the city’s Eastern, Central and Western districts.Baltimore will be one of the largest police departments in the nation with a body camera program. Other local jurisdictions are instituting similar programs. Baltimore County will begin equipping its first 150 officers with body cameras in July, with more than 1,400 officers to be equipped by 2017.
More law enforcement agencies are purchasing body cameras at a time when agencies across the country face greater scrutiny after an increasing number of civilian videos have captured negative interactions with police.In Baltimore, cellphone video captured police loading 25-year-old Freddie Gray into the back of a police van last April.
Gray later died of injuries sustained while in police custody, and criminal charges were filed against the six police officers involved in his arrest and transport. His death sparked protests and unrest in the city.
This year, Baltimore police have shot seven people, three fatally.In one case, police located and publicly released surveillance videos from a business, which showed a man follow an off-duty officer into a corner shop. Inside, the video showed the man with a gun attempting to rob the officer, prompting the officer to shoot and kill the man. Police later determined the gun that the man was holding was a replica.
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