Resort Police On Schedule With Body Camera Research

OCEAN CITY – Law enforcement officials say the implementation of a body-worn camera program continues to move forward.

This week, members of the Ocean City Police Commission were provided an update on the Ocean City Police Department’s (OCPD) implementation of a body-worn camera program.

“We’re moving right along,” said Police Chief Ross Buzzuro.

Earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation mandating law enforcements agencies to use body-worn cameras by 2025.

In July, however, the OCPD announced plans to launch a program by the start of next season. Since that time, department officials have formed a committee, met with camera vendors and initiated two trial runs of the body-worn camera program.

“We’re in the trial phase with our second vendor,” Buzzuro told commission members this week. “Our second vendor is going pretty well. We’re going to be meeting with the first vendor with some follow-up interaction, going over some of the logistical items that come with this.”

Buzzuro reported that a select number of officers are wearing body-worn cameras in the field. During the department’s next phase, he noted, officials would be comparing the two camera vendors and making a final recommendation.

“There’s more to body-worn cameras than meets the eye. The cameras are the easy part …,” he said. “You have to look at battery life and you have to look at storage, and other things that are in play that factor into who we are going to hire.”

Councilman Lloyd Martin, commission chair, agreed.

“It’s a bigger item than the cameras itself,” he said.

The police department’s aggressive campaign to launch a body-worn camera program came earlier this year, after a series of highly publicized Boardwalk incidents in which the agency’s use of force was called into question.

In two cases, attempts to issue citations for vaping on the Boardwalk ended with physical confrontations between OCPD officers and the suspects, and the online circulation of cellphone footage showing snippets of the incidents. The FBI conducted an inquiry into the police officers’ handling of the situations, resulting in no civil rights violations being found. The FBI’s probe confirmed the OCPD’s own internal investigation.

In the days that followed, the state’s Office of the Public Defender called on Ocean City’s police department to expedite its use of body-worn cameras.

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.