ACLU raises concerns with Baltimore Police Department body camera policy

March 10, 2016

TAKE ACTION: Say NO to special rights for police officers to review body camera footage before giving statements

 

 

Contact: Meredith Curtis, media@aclu-md.org, 443-310-9946

BALTIMORE, MD – Today, the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) announced that their body camera deployment will begin on May 1, with 500 cameras distributed to officers throughout the City. During the pilot phase of the BPD’s program, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland spoke out against a provision of the interim policy that gave officers under investigation for misconduct the right to review their camera footage before being questioned. At today’s press conference, BPD Commissioner Kevin Davis indicated that the final policy would not have substantive changes from the interim policy, which indicates the rule guaranteeing officers access will remain in force.

The following can be attributed to David Rocah, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Maryland:

“Allowing officers under investigation access to their own body camera footage before being questioned or making a statement about the incident destroys the integrity of the investigation. Once an officer has viewed the footage, there is no way for an investigator to know whether the officer’s statements are truthful, whether their memory is accurate, or whether their perception is accurate.  And if an investigator cannot judge those things, they cannot meaningfully evaluate anything the officer says, or conduct a full and fair investigation.  That is why there is no other circumstance, other than an investigation of a police officer, where law enforcement would give the subject the right to review evidence about the incident before being questioned.  That is why every single member of the Mayor’s Body Camera Task Force, other than the FOP union representatives, agreed that the police department should prohibit officers from viewing footage prior to being questioned or making a statement.  We call on the Baltimore Police Department to change this policy before the full program is rolled out on May 1, 2016.”

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