BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ)–It’s been in the works for months and now Baltimore City police officers will soon wear small cameras. The mayor unveiled recommendations from her task force that starts with a pilot program for the cameras this year.
Rick Ritter has more on what this means for the city.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Bright And Breezy
The pilot program would start with cameras on 100 officers in November, those working in districts with the highest crime and call volumes, recording every interaction they have with the public.
Year after year after year, Baltimore City wrestles with police brutality complaints.
“It will not be tolerated in this organization,” said Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.
It forces the city’s hand on body cameras, which are now reality.
“It’s been a long time coming but I think it’s been worth it,” said Mark Washington.
The small cameras are planned for a pilot program at first. One hundred officers will be chosen to test out different cameras and record every interaction they have with the public—but must let you know when the camera is recording and give you an option to have it turned off.
“I think the public will like most that we put policy recommendations in place that will protect their privacy,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.READ MORE: Several First Responders Injured Following Intentional Fire, Explosion At Baltimore County Nail Spa
The program will cost close to $1.5 million. City officials say the pilot is the most important part of the body camera proposal—set to start in November and finishing up in April 2016, with the full program starting just months later in July.
A member of the task force and executive director of a northeast Baltimore community, Washington says residents have voiced their concerns to him for years.
“That we need it, that they want it and that it’s long overdue,” he said.
Giving police another set of eyes and ears on the job.
“This was not a tool to hamper the police department but it was a tool to level the playing field,” Washington said.
A playing field many believe is in desperate need of repairs.
“This is one tool, one piece to a very large puzzle in repairing a broken relationship between police and the community,” said Councilman Brandon Scott.
A public comment period will take place now through March 6. To comment, email email@example.com.
A budget supplemental bill still needs to be sent to the city council. There’s no word on when that will be sent but Rawlings-Blake says “We’re definitely moving this process forward.”MORE NEWS: Jewish Community Center Reacts To Bomb Threat, Anti-Semitic Email