Only a few months after Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman announced his Administration would collaborate with Police Chief Gary Gardner and the Howard County Police Department on a pilot program that would test the use of police body cameras in the field, a working group has gotten underway.
Funding for the pilot program was included in the Kittleman 2017 budget. The use of cameras in policing is a popular new technology deployed in several jurisdictions throughout the United States and many in Howard County feel the technology could assist law enforcement locally.
Kittleman Police Body Camera Work Group Sets Goals, Expectations
The 18-member group had their first meeting on April 20 and discussed major factors involved in developing the pilot program, including technology, cost, usefulness, transparency, training, accountability and privacy issues that the pilot program would raise.
During the meeting three initial goals were set for the pilot:
● Make vendor, equipment, and operational recommendations
● Make policy and training recommendations
● Determine technical requirements to operate the pilot program
Within each of these categories, there are a number of factors to assess. In making vendor and equipment considerations, members will evaluate equipment options, charging and download station locations, personnel to test the cameras in the field and the length of the pilot program.
The task force is also committed to considering individual privacy and the right to public information. Their policy and training recommendations will reflect:
● Recording mandates
● Fourth amendment issues
● Video downloads and review
● Requirements for notification of recording to a third party
● Responding to requests under the state’s Public Information Act
Operational concerns include technology costs, back-end requirements (including servers and connectivity), storage issues, video search and camera capabilities, and personnel needed to manage the program.
Police Chief Gary Gardner hopes to assess the potential use of the body camera technology as a law enforcement tool in the community. In order to do so, fundamental issues related to the pilot program, including technology, cost, usefulness, transparency, training, accountability and privacy, must be addressed.
The group plans to meet monthly, and to provide updates on their progress. It will take a period of several months before police body cameras will be used in the field.
The working group members represent departments within the police department as well as outside organizations, including the police officers’ union, county technology, and computer operations; and the state attorney’s office.