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Howard police body cameras should not require huge staffing increase | READER COMMENTARY

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball at a news conference announcing the lifting of certain pandemic restrictions outside the Roger Carter Community Center in Ellicott City on Thursday, April 29, 2021. (Baltimore Sun handout).
Howard County Executive Calvin Ball at a news conference announcing the lifting of certain pandemic restrictions outside the Roger Carter Community Center in Ellicott City on Thursday, April 29, 2021. (Baltimore Sun handout).

I was shocked to read that within Howard County’s proposed Fiscal 2022 operating budget (”Howard County Executive Ball proposes $1.88 billion operating budget, including $632.8 million for schools,” April 19), the proposed body camera program for the Howard County police and sheriff’s departments will require 10 new positions in the police department and 13 new positions in the state’s attorneys office.

According to the article, the 13 state’s attorney positions will be for reviewing the footage. It is hard for me to believe this kind of staffing is necessary. Surely, footage will only be reviewed if there is some question or controversy, not every time an officer has the camera running.

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If a body cam program requires this kind of overhead, I would have to question whether this is a cost-effective way to use my tax money. The instances in which the evidence is needed are certainly significant ones, but they are rare and I would suggest that mental health support or better psychological screening for law enforcement recruits might be better, if less exciting alternatives.

I tried to look at the budget document and confirmed the positions are there, but I could not determine what they will be used for. If the article is accurate, I would hope Howard County Executive Calvin Ball could find better alternatives. We need programs that work and spend our money wisely, not just whatever program happens to be popular in the media.

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Angie Boyter, Ellicott City

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