Fenwick Police Add Body Cameras

FENWICK ISLAND – As talks of mandatory body camera use grows, Fenwick Island’s police chief says his department is taking steps to prepare.

In a meeting of the Fenwick Island Town Council last Friday, officials presented an update on police WatchGuard body cameras.

“We’re going to see, going forward, lots of changes through state legislation being made at the police department,” Town Manager Terry Tieman told council members. “In fact, we all received a memo earlier today saying that body cameras are probably going to become mandatory.”

Police Chief John Devlin highlighted recent discussions about the mandatory use of police body cameras. He argued the cameras could be beneficial not only for citizens, but for police officers as well.

“I think they’re a really good asset, and it cuts down on officer complaints, some of them frivolous …,” he said. “It’s more transparent and everyone can see what’s going on.”

Devlin told council members last week there had been a recommendation to mandate the use of police body cameras across the state. He said his department had already purchased four cameras in preparation for that scenario.

“We knew this, going down the road,” he said. “So I obtained between $25,000 and $27,000 worth of equipment through grants, so we’re ahead of the curve.”

Devlin said the police department had purchased four body cameras, a server and an upload system to make video transfers seamless.

“Currently, I’ve purchased four body cameras,” he said. “That’s enough for officers who are going to be on the road at one time. When this other funding comes in I plan on getting eight body cameras, so each officer will have their own camera.”

Devlin noted the purchased equipment would be installed and in use by Memorial Day.

“We’ll be up and running before the season this year,” he said.

Councilman Bill Weistling asked if the town would have access to body camera footage.

“Will the town be able to keep a record of these on file or does this go directly to the state?” he said. “And how long do these records remain in the system?”

Devlin said it was still a matter for the state to decide.

“They’re still trying to work out that part of it, that’s why I got the server for now,” he said. “We’re not sure. They haven’t figured out the parameters of how long and where it’s going to be stored.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.