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Body camera work group sets goals for Howard police pilot program

A Howard County community policing task force is recommending a body camera pilot program.
A Howard County community policing task force is recommending a body camera pilot program. (Darron Cummings / AP)

In the midst of developing a body camera pilot program, a Howard County Police Department work group announced their goals moving forward after having their first meeting on April 20.

Created by County Executive Allan Kittleman and Police Chief Gary Gardner, the 18-member body camera work group is discussing the possibility of body cameras within the Police Department, spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said, including the technology, cost, usefulness, transparency, training, accountability and privacy issues in starting a pilot program.

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Howard County's Police Department should implement a pilot program to explore equipping its officers with body cameras, according to new recommendations from a citizen-led task force.

Funding for the pilot program has not yet been determined, Llewellyn said.

During the meeting, Llewellyn said the work group established three goals: vendor, equipment and operational recommendations; policy and training recommendations; and technical requirements to operate the pilot program. The work group will be considering equipment options, charging and download station locations, personnel who will test the cameras in the field and the length of the pilot program.

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Llewellyn said the work group's policy and training recommendations will reflect recording mandates, Fourth Amendment issues, video downloads and review, requirements for notification of recording to a third party and responding to requests under the state's Public Information Act.

While costs will factor into the study, the work group will also review back-end requirements, such as servers and connectivity, storage issues, redaction, video search and camera capabilities and personnel needed to manage the program.

Laurel police have announced two new initiatives that aim to improve the public safety of Laurel citizens.

"After the work group examines the technology, cost, usefulness, transparency, training, accountability and privacy issues in launching the pilot program, we'll be able to better assess the potential use of this technology as a law enforcement tool in our community," Police Chief Gary Gardner said.

Members of the work group represent various areas within the department and outside organizations, Llewellyn said, including the police officers union, county technology and computer operations; and the state's attorney's office. Plans are for the group to meet monthly, providing updates on any progress; however, it will be months before any cameras will be used in the field, she said.

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