Baltimore police body camera audits show officers are in compliance

Baltimore police conducted more than 250 inspections of police body camera videos last year to review compliance with the new program, according to records obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

Most of the reviews showed officers were in compliance.

Baltimore police policy requires that officers start recording "at the initiation of a call for service or other activity or encounter that is investigative or enforcement-related in nature," or when an encounter with the public becomes confrontational. There are some exceptions, such as when civilians request to not be recorded during a voluntary encounter or when dealing with a confidential informant.

Out of 3,441 mandatory video recordings from arrests, car stops, field interviews and other incidents last year, officers saved 3,290 recordings.

One-third of the inspection reports show some violations because officers either did not record an encounter or store video as required.

Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith said officers have been disciplined for violations of the policy.

"This audit was put in place to address any shortcomings that might exist," he said. "We have been proactively able to address disciplinary concerns and training issues as a result of our self-initiated audits."

The inspections included audits conducted at police districts, as well as individual inspections sparked by reviews of arrests or requests for video by the state's attorney's office.

The Operational Investigations Division, which worked with federal task forces to catch violent offenders, was found to be most out of compliance with the program, with about half of the 43 inspection reports showing some violation or failure to record. That division was disbanded in the wake of the March indictment of seven officers on federal racketeering charges.

Among those with the best compliance record was the Western District, where only three out of the 21 inspection reports were found out of compliance.

The inspections, obtained by the Sun through a Public Information Act request, focused more on whether officers were generating the video and less on their behavior in the videos. However, in the first six months of the program, 47 videos were forwarded to Internal Affairs for review of possible officer misconduct, according to the Baltimore police website about the program.

Police began the body camera program last May with 500 officers. The department anticipates equipping all officers with cameras by January 2018.

crentz@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2017, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
43°