Baltimore City mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake speaks at a press conference announcing the formation of a working group to consider the implementation of a body camera program in the city. (AFRO Photo/Roberto Alejandro)
A working group will study possible implementation of a body camera program for Baltimore police, and will provide recommendations to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts within three to four months.
The creation of the working group was announced by Rawlings-Blake and Batts at a press conference at City Hall on Oct. 17.
The announcement came almost two weeks after the mayor and police commissioner released a report on reforming Baltimore Police Department practices. The report called for the convening of a panel to consider implementation of a body camera program in the city. Prior to the release of the report, Baltimore had been rocked by a series videos of BPD officers assaulting citizens.
“Baltimore can only become a safer city if the community and the police are working together, hand in hand, to rid our streets of violence,” Rawlings-Blake said at the press conference. “That means we have to work every day to bring more transparency and accountability to policing in Baltimore.”
Concern over relations between residents and police was at the center of the conference, and Batts spoke of the need for greater trust in Baltimore’s police force.
“Our ability to be successful in the crime-fight is directly linked to the trust that the public has in the Baltimore police department,” said Batts. “That trust comes not only from our ongoing community engagement, but also from the way the officers in this department interact with the community that pay our salaries on a daily basis.”
The work group will be co-chaired by James Benjamin, Jr., an area attorney, and Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple. The group will look at a number of issues including costs of implementation, policies and procedures related to the use of the cameras, as well as issues related to storage of the data captured.