OCEAN CITY – Ocean City’s police chief says a new body-worn camera program is now in place.
In an Ocean City Police Commission meeting Monday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Chief Ross Buzzuro presented an update on the resort’s new body-worn camera program.
“Everyone in the field, everyone in the department, has gotten the training and wears body-worn cameras,” he told commission members this week.
Last year, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation mandating law enforcements agencies to use body-worn cameras by 2025. Last July, however, the OCPD announced plans to launch a program by the start of the 2022 summer season.
Since that time, officials have formed a committee, met with camera vendors, initiated trial runs and selected the private provider Axon as its vendor. And as of this month, Buzzuro said, all officers have been trained and equipped with body-worn cameras.
“We have 100% of our personnel in the field wearing them,” he said, “and they’ve already been a great resource for us working in the field.”
The police department’s aggressive campaign to launch a body-worn camera program came last 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.
During this week’s presentation, Mayor Rick Meehan noted the body-worn camera program would not only benefit members of the public, but OCPD officers, as the cameras would capture and record incidents and save footage.
“It’s there, it’s working, it’s seamless and makes a big difference to all our residents and visitors – and I know to all the officers – that are out there,” he said.
OCPD Capt. Mike Colbert said the implementation of the body-worn camera program was made possible with the help of instructors and IT staff. He added that forensics had also hired two technicians.
“They are onboard now and are going through training as we speak …,” he said. “We are training them specifically in evidence.com and being able to handle video and those kinds of things.”