Baltimore County police to review body-camera policy for off-duty officers

The Baltimore County Police Department will review its body-camera policy for off-duty officers who are working in uniform as security guards after an officer shot and killed a man while working security duty in Parkville on Monday.

A police officer shot and killed Derrick Alexander Sellman, 28, outside the ShopRite at the Parkway Crossing shopping center after the officer stopped Sellman for driving erratically, according to police.

It was the second time in 14 months an off-duty Baltimore County police officer killed someone while working as a security guard.

The county police department currently lets officers decide whether to wear body cameras while working second jobs in uniform. Cpl. Shawn Vinson, a spokesman for the police department, said the agency is reviewing that policy.

“As with any incident we always are looking to see what the best practice is, so any of our policies can be changed,” Vinson said. “With this we would always review it to see if it could be improved.”

The officer stopped Sellman near the grocery store’s entrance and Sellman opened the door of the SUV, Vinson said. At some point, Sellman accelerated, either dragging the officer or hitting him, Vinson said. The SUV was then hit by a white 2016 Toyota Avalon, pinning the officer between that car’s door and the SUV.

The officer shot at Sellman and struck him at least once in his upper body. He died at Sinai Hospital.

A shooting last August by an off-duty officer working as a security guard at a Giant supermarket in Catonsville prompted Kevin Kamenetz, the late county executive who preceded County Executive Don Mohler, to voice support for requiring officers to wear body cameras while working second jobs.

At the time Kamenetz said he supported a change in policy a decade earlier to have off-duty officers wear their uniforms while working part-time security jobs, and said at the time he’d support requiring them to use body cameras, as well.

Other local police agencies with body-camera programs — including Baltimore, Laurel and Howard counties — require officers who are working second jobs in their police uniforms to also wear their body cameras.

Baltimore County has made no decision whether to require police officers moonlighting as security guards to wear body cameras, Mohler said in a brief statement Tuesday.

“The issue remains under study and obviously has merit, but it’s more complex than it may appear,” he said in the statement.

Among the factors the county is considering are any additional costs for providing and maintaining the equipment — and whether the officers’ off-duty employers should help pay to offset it.

Vinson said the complexities go beyond the cost.

“There’s complications legally as far as requiring an officer to have a body camera while working part-time,” Vinson said.

Police working in uniform in an official capacity for the department and wearing body cameras are exempt from the state’s wire-tapping statute — which requires two-party consent for audio recordings. Vinson said it’s unclear whether those exceptions would apply to officers working as security guards.

Baltimore County Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan was not available to comment Tuesday.

The police department does not have a timeline for reviewing the policy, Vinson said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Allison Knezevich contributed to this article.

smeehan@baltsun.com

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