Body Worn Cameras
Update: August 26, 2022
Members of PATF-HoCo met with representatives of the Howard County Police Department on August 23 to provide feedback on the Body Worn Camera policy. The HCPD representatives indicated that the department is currently working on an update to the BWC policy.
We highlighted three primary areas of concern:
An officer who has shot or seriously injured someone or is involved in an in-custody death should not be allowed to review video before writing a report or being interviewed. Since others involved in critical incidents (i.e., a shooting or person seriously injured) are not allowed to review BWC footage before being questioned, an officer involved in a critical incident or in an in-custody death should also not be allowed to review video before writing a report or being interviewed.
The Police Accountability Board (PAB) should be added to the list of groups authorized to view video footage.
There is nothing in the policy regarding penalties for violating the BWC policy; if disciplinary action is detailed in another HCPD policy, this document needs to be available to the public.
Our complete comments can be found here.
The exchange was positive, and the HCPD representatives committed to sharing our concerns with Chief Der and seriously considering them during their policy revision.
PATF-HoCo August 23, 2022 meeting with HCPD representatives. From left to right: Wayne Jones - HCPD Chief of Staff; Angie Page - PATF-HoCo; Ted Stewart - PATF-HoCo; Jackie Akinpelu - PATF-HoCo; Mark Booker - PATF-HoCo; Tami Bulla - HCPD Office of Chief of Police Strategic Planning/Legislative Affairs; Steve Lampe - HCPD Commander, Professional Standards Bureau
Update: June 15, 2022
The Howard County Body Worn Camera policy is now available. It can be reviewed at https://www.howardcountymd.gov/police/body-worn-cameras.
Update: June 1, 2022
According to an April 2022 update from the Howard County Chief of Police, implementation of the BWC Program is underway:
The county has completed purchase of the cameras for 300 uniformed officers.
The county is installing new data lines to connect the BWC docking stations at police facilities. They are also installing required equipment in each patrol vehicle to enable the BWC technology.
The BWC policy committee is continuing work on a policy for the police chief’s review and approval. [Note: The date for the release of this policy is unclear.]
The HCPD Information Management Division has hired new administrative employees who will help run the BWC program behind the scenes.
Body worn camera training was scheduled to begin in late May for all uniformed officers.
PATF-HoCo’s efforts towards advocating for a BWC “best-in-class” policy is still an ongoing work in progress. We are awaiting the final approved BWC policy for Howard County and we will review the policy relative to best practice BWC policies in other jurisdictions. Upon our review of the BWC policy, PATF-HoCo will communicate the results of our assessment with our Coalition Partners, Howard County law enforcement, Howard County Police Accountability Board and Howard County government leaders. In addition to our assessment report, PATF-HoCo will actively lobby to correct provisions in the BWC policy that fall short of BWC policy best practice.
Update: September 18, 2021
In anticipation of the approval of full funding in Fiscal Year 2022 for the Police Body-Worn Camera Program by the Howard County Council on October 4, the PATF-HoCo plans to engage with County law enforcement regarding best practices that will achieve a model implementation supporting the best interests of both Howard County residents and law enforcement. Based on a great deal of research by our team, we have compiled two Key Implementation Recommendations documents. The first is a top level highlights document, and the second is a document with a more detailed set of recommendations.
We want to ensure that the document reflects the wishes of the Howard County community, and we would love to get feedback from our coalition partners. We ask that coalition partner members review the two documents below and provide feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 10/2/2021.
Update: August 20, 2021
Today, the County Executive has announced that he will provide an update on the BWC Program on Monday, August 23, 2021. In his announcement he states that “Funding for the program is currently in contingency funding status in the FY2022 operating budget.”
Simply addressing the contingency funds of $475K while ignoring the much larger gutting of the program funding will not be acceptable to PATF or to our Community. We are calling on Dr. Ball to not only address the contingency funding of $475k, but also to reinstate the full funding for the BWC Program at $3.8M in FY22 and to take all necessary measures to ensure full GO LIVE implementation of the program by the end of 2021.
We have been disappointed by the County Executive before when he announced the program and quickly gutted it. So we hope that on Monday, he will provide an explanation of how he will find the remaining $3.3 million for the program in addition to the small $475k contingency funding.
The time for action is long overdue.
Two Days of Action (August 19 and 20, 2021)
Please take part in this “Two Days of Action,” an email blitz to the Howard County Executive and County Council demanding full implementation of the police body-worn camera program by the end of 2021. The dates for this action are August 19th and 20th.
Please encourage your organization’s members to participate by sending an email to the County Executive and County Council members. Participation is simple and takes fewer than 5 minutes!
Go to the link https://actionnetwork.org/letters/body-worn-cameras-in-hoco?source=direct_link&
Fill out the name and address information, then click the Start Writing button.
If desired, review the email text provided. Folks are free to customize the text of the email, but that is not necessary.
When you are finished with the content of the message, click the Send Letter button and emails will automatically be sent to the County Executive and all members of the County Council.
Please act on August 19th or 20th. Also, feel free to share the instructions with others who are interested in the implementation of police body-worn cameras in Howard County and encourage them to participate.
Note that the “Two Days of Action” campaign comes just a few days after an officer-involved shooting in our County for which (inevitably due to our County Leaderships actions), there will be no body-worn camera footage.
This is inexcusable! Our Community needs BWCs NOW! Our law enforcement officers need BWCs NOW!
The failure of our County Leaders to fully fund the BWC Program NOW must not stand!
Howard County Body Worn Camera (BWC) Program Update: June 4, 2021
This report was prepared by the steering committee of the Police Accountability Task Force – Howard County (PATF – HoCo) to memorialize the decisions made by the County Executive, Dr. Calvin Ball and the County Council members which effectively gutted funding and delayed the BWC Program’s “go live” implementation date by up to a year, or longer.
These decisions significantly contradict the promises Dr. Ball made to Howard County’s community and law enforcement entities (Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney’s Office).
The following is a summary of the facts as we know it. The implementation of Howard County’s BWC program remains a dynamic situation and we will continue to update this document on our website to reflect new information as it becomes publicly available.
The BWC program is strongly supported by Howard County residents, Howard County Police Department, Sheriff's Office, and the State's Attorney. On the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's murder, this set of actions by Dr. Ball and the County Council demonstrates a breathtaking level of insensitivity to our community's needs, especially those of our fellow black and brown community members.
This must not stand!
Status of Campaign: May 21, 2021
On March 24, County Executive Ball invited the Police Accountability Task Force – Howard County to participate in an historic announcement to fully fund the implementation of police body-worn cameras for the HoCo Police and Sheriff’s Departments in the fiscal year 2022 budget.
We participated in good faith, understanding that this was a commitment made by county leadership to prioritize police accountability and transparency.
During the past week, we were outraged to learn that the County Executive has reneged on his commitment to fully implement this program in FY2022. As we write this, the County Council is considering two amendments (the Ball and Walsh amendments) that would gut funding for this critically important program and seriously delay its implementation.
This is totally unacceptable!
We want the program fully implemented this year as promised. Neither the Ball amendment nor the Walsh amendment is acceptable. We are demanding that you fully reinstate the $3.2M funding to ensure that there is no delay in implementation.
The time to implement this program is NOW, not next year.
Our community is depending on our elected officials to do the right thing. Meanwhile, we will be going to the media to get this message out to the Howard County community.
Status of Campaign: March 24, 2021
Thank you to all those who support this campaign, especially the signatories.
The County Executive announced on March 24, 2021, that Howard County will be prioritizing roughly $3.2M in funding for full implementation of a Body Worn Camera program (BWC Program) in FY 2022.
As we indicated during Dr. Ball’s press conference, we continue to advocate for a full, final and comprehensive implementation of the BWC Program without delay, and that we are supported in this by a group of highly engaged citizens and community organizations who are concerned about public safety in Howard County. We believe it is the energy, action and commitment of the groups who signed on and others that have made the difference and brought about this positive development.
We expect to secure more details in the ensuing days and will certainly wish to review the County’s BWC Program proposal all the community organizations that have supported our initiative. We remain fully committed to our continuing engagement with County leadership to fulfill the goal of implementing a best-in-class Body Worn Camera Program for our County’s law enforcement personnel.
We know that we all still have a lot of work to do, and that a long road still lies ahead. But, failure here is not an option – the health and safety of all our County’s citizens demand no less than the full, final and comprehensive implementation of the Body Worn Camera Program without any further delay.
The Petition Letter
To: County Executive, Dr. Calvin Ball
CC: Howard County Council Members
Police Chief, Ms. Lisa Myers
We are writing to you to recommend and advocate for the immediate implementation of a Body Worn Camera Program (“BWC Program”) for the Howard County Police Department (“HCPD”).
Our recommendation is supported by a coalition of citizens and community organizations. For your reference, a listing of BWC Program supporters is noted at the end of this letter.
The murder of George Floyd in 2020 by police officers in Minneapolis triggered an unprecedented number of protests in the United States and internationally against police brutality, especially towards Black people. Sadly, most believe this heinous act would have gone unprosecuted had it not been recorded. Given this backdrop, we believe the time for action is now, before a tragic encounter with the police department happens in our own backyard.
Implementation of the BWC Program would be an important step towards achieving greater transparency and accountability in policing in Howard County. There is broad support in our community for the BWC Program, and we have also received an indication of support from HCPD leadership, subject to funding.
It is time for Howard County to follow the lead of other jurisdictions in Maryland that have implemented BWC Programs – including Montgomery County, Harford County, Baltimore County, Queen Anne’s County, Wicomico County and the cities of Baltimore, Frederick, Salisbury, Berlin and Fruitland.
We consider that it is essential for our County to authorize the funding and staffing required to implement the BWC Program and we call on you to take the necessary measures to move forward on this important initiative as soon as possible.
Ted Stewart, on behalf of Police Accountability Task Force of Howard County