Reporting Meghan McCorkell
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There have been conflicting reports of what happened during several high-profile deaths in police custody. Now a state lawmaker has proposed a controversial new bill that could force all officers to use wearable video cameras capturing their every move.
Meghan McCorkell explains how it would work.
Delegate Frank Conaway Jr. says the cameras could provide a safeguard for officers to help them prove their actions were justified.
Donte Bennett was killed last week as police say he fought them with a gun in his hand.
“He was holding onto the gate for dear life,” a witness said.
A traffic stop turned deadly for Tyrone West after a struggle with officers.
“They were hitting him with batons. They were kicking him in his head,” said a witness.
Anthony Anderson died of blunt force trauma during a drug stop.
“They was kicking him and he never moved,” said a witness.
In all three cases, witnesses tell different stories than police.
“Right now, it seems that we’re having an erosion in confidence as to whose story is correct when the police are confronting the citizens,” said Delegate Frank Conaway Jr.
Now Conaway is proposing new legislation requiring all Maryland officers to wear tiny cameras on their bodies. The cameras would be placed on the officer’s uniform, glasses or badge so everything they see and do is recorded.
Laurel police are already using the new technology. Those cameras captured a woman suspected of drunk driving taking off, speeding the wrong way into oncoming traffic, crashing and then running.
“Laurel isn’t Baltimore City,” said FOP President Bob Cherry.
Cherry worries the cameras could breed mistrust.
“I think a lot of the public are going to be afraid to actually talk to our police knowing they’re being recorded,” he said.
Conaway believes they would have the opposite effect.
“The police officers will be able to say, `See, we told you we’re doing the right thing. We’re here to protect and serve,’” Conaway said.
His bill will now go to committee and he hopes for a vote in the next legislative session.
Police departments in California, New Mexico and Texas are already using the cameras. A judge in New York City has ordered police there to start using them, too.