The Baltimore County Police Department today issued its first policy governing the public release of footage from body-worn cameras. The policy, which aims to clarify the circumstances under which footage will be released and the procedures for release, reinforces the department’s commitment to the improvement of policing strategies and accountability.
Chief Melissa Hyatt said, “This policy is an important step in continuing to build and maintain trust between law enforcement and the community. The policy will preserve the integrity of investigations while respecting the privacy of individuals.”
Under the policy, the Chief of Police can make a decision to release footage from critical incidents and positive interactions with officers and the community within 30 days of the incident, even if there has not been a request for footage (critical incidents are high-profile encounters, along with use-of-force incidents that are defined at length within the policy; click on the link below for more information). The Chief will consult with the State’s Attorney prior to releasing critical incident footage. The policy includes a process by which the State’s Attorney can request an extension of the release in order to preserve a defendant’s right to a fair trial.
County Executive Johnny Olszewski issued the following statement following the announcement of Baltimore County Police Department’s first comprehensive policy governing the public release of footage from body worn cameras:
“I pledged to make Baltimore County more transparent and accountable for every resident, and we continue to deliver on that promise. Chief Hyatt shares my commitment to openness and accountability, and today’s announcement of the Baltimore County Police Department’s first body-worn camera footage release policy is yet another important step forward.”