Baltimore Police body cameras recorded officers pulling over a city councilman earlier this month in an exam
Baltimore Police body cameras recorded officers pulling over a city councilman earlier this month in an example of the kind of everyday encounters that the cameras now capture.
In the video, Robert Stokes Sr. quickly identifies himself as a councilman and an officer can be heard saying he's been pulled over for having two broken taillights, failing to use a turn signal, and driving through a stop sign.
The officer says he can smell alcohol and questions Stokes about drinking, but does not order a field sobriety test and gives Stokes a warning for the stop sign violation.
Police released the footage after a public records request from The Baltimore Sun.
Stokes, in an interview, denied that he ran a stop sign, and said he had had one glass of wine. He said he was frustrated that he was asked to park his car and walk to his nearby destination.
"Back at the back of the car you told me it was a beer," the officer said. "Mr. Stokes, if you want to argue about this, what I'll do is get back in my car, I'll call someone who is field-sobriety-trained, and I'll have them run you through a field sobriety test."
"I'll take the warning," Stokes said.
Police spokesman T.J. Smith said the officer "handled the situation by using their discretion."
"Officers possess discretion all the time. They are not compelled to give a ticket versus a warning in traffic situation," Smith said. "Each person's perspective is going to be different and you aren't compelled to make an arrest at a certain point."
Smith said the officers who performed the stop are assigned to the Operational Intelligence Division, a plainclothes unit focused on guns, drugs and violence that uses traffic stops in an attempt to find other types of crime.
"These officers mainly focus on guns, drugs and violence," he said. "In the circumstances presented, they exercised discretion in the situation which is perfectly reasonable."
Smith said police did not have data on the percentage of traffic stops that end in a warning, or in an officer telling the subject to park the car.
Stokes told The Sun that he thinks it's good that interactions with police are being recorded.
City police began equipping officers with body cameras last May. More than 900 city officers are now equipped with body cameras.