By 2025, according to recent legislation passed, police departments in Maryland are to have body cameras as part of their police officers’ uniforms.
It was learned this week the Ocean City Police Department hopes to have body cameras purchased before then, as Chief Ross Buzzuro views them as, “a very valuable resource for us to move forward with in terms of public safety, the safety of our officers and the safety of our citizens.”
We support this direction because we think it will help tremendously with internal investigations when police conduct is questioned. We need to look no further than last month in Ocean City as evidence of the importance of body cameras.
Though there is footage available from the city’s mounted surveillance cameras as well as witnesses’ cell phone video, we see true value in the officers wearing body cameras to assist with internal investigations as well as training exercises for young police officers. We know the incidents did not unfold as the defendants’ attorneys maintain with their metropolitan hype machines. The two suspects were detained about threatening police officers and in one case spitting on them. Police body cameras would confirm what is known, rather than allowing opportunistic types from seeking inappropriate pay days in the name of police malfeasance.
Transparency and trust are key in a time when police reform bills are being passed in many states and distrust of law enforcement runs high. We understand why there is concern, as there have bene several high-profile incidents of police misconduct in recent years. It’s disgusting to see some of these abuses of power, but it’s important to remember a great majority of police officers are in the line of work for all the right reasons and act accordingly. For the small minority who take their power too far, body cameras will hold them accountable.
There will be a major price tag for Ocean City to procure body cameras for its active personnel, but it’s an expense that should be made sooner rather than later. If the city moves quickly, the officers should have them by next summer. It would be a wise course in this day of heightened anxiety about law enforcement. Rather than delay until the state mandate takes effect, Ocean City should work expeditiously to fast track this effort.