Nearly 1,000 Baltimore County police officers now have body cameras

A year after launching its body camera program, the Baltimore County Police Department says about 950 of its officers are equipped with the devices.

The agency began distributing the cameras to officers in July 2016. The goal is for all uniformed officers — about 1,435 people — to have cameras by Oct. 1.

The department is on track to meet that deadline, said police spokesman Cpl. Shawn Vinson.

Originally, the county planned to take until the end of 2018 to assign all of the Axon Flex cameras. But under criticism for incidents including the fatal police shooting of Korryn Gaines and wounding of her 5-year-old son, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and then-Police Chief Jim Johnson announced last fall that it would finish distributing the cameras more than a year ahead of schedule.

Gaines was killed Aug. 1, 2016, a few weeks after the department began using body cameras. The shooting was not recorded.

This year, county police have shot seven people in five separate incidents, killing three of them. While some portion of all this year’s incidents have been recorded, the moment of the shooting has not been recorded by the shooting officer’s camera in each incident.

In March, two officers shot at a car they said accelerated toward them while they were investigating a convenience store robbery, killing Rashad Opher, 20, and wounding two others.

One of the officers had a body camera and it was not on at the time; he turned it on afterward and recorded the aftermath of the incident. Police previously said the officers were talking to each other when the vehicle suddenly drove toward them.

In another shooting the following month in Milford Mill, an officer shot into the moving vehicle of a car-theft suspect, wounding a woman who was a passenger. The officer’s camera was not on because he said it malfunctioned, though the camera of another officer at the scene captured the shooting.

Kamenetz released a statement Friday calling the county “a statewide leader in the implementation of police body cameras.”

“I am proud that we are continuing to deliver on our promise to increase transparency, improve accountability and build trust between the brave men and women of our police department and the communities they are sworn to protect and serve,” Kamenetz said.

alisonk@baltsun.com

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