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Police Body Cameras Soon to be Used in Public Schools

In light of recent tragedies taking place in U.S. public schools, the Montgomery County Police Department has arranged a pilot program for school resource officers which will allow them and police officers to wear body cameras on their uniforms when they are called to a school. Montgomery County Police has used body-worn cameras since October 12 of this year, but it will upscale to the whole state of Maryland in January 2016.

The purpose of the body-worn cameras is to maintain a safe school environment and to provide a source for evidence if any incident should occur in which the details are ambiguous. There are many cameras the police department is in the process of testing to determine the best size for the body cameras to be compatible with the officers’ suits. The cameras may also have audio features and the ability to begin recording one minute before the officer actually hits the record button in order to better understand the entirety of any event that takes place.

“It’s for the safety of the citizen and for the police officer. If the police officer does something bad, there it is,” said Rockville city police officer Corporal Halverson.

Thomas Manger, the Police Chief of the Montgomery County Police Department, has clearly laid out the policies for the camera use. Some of these policies include:

  • The cameras are not to be on 24/7 and footage is to be used only when there is a legal requirement for it.
  • Officers must tell the people they are interacting with that they have started to record.
  • Offices may only activate the camera during an encounter. After the encounter has ended, the officer must deactivate the camera.
  • While interviewing, the officer must ask for consent to record the interviewee. If an interviewee requests that they not be recorded, then the officer can turn off the camera.
  • Officers cannot use the camera in restrooms, changing rooms, or locker rooms unless it is part of an investigation.
  • Officers cannot use the cameras for any non-law enforcement activities.

Three school resource officers are already using the cameras. “It’s going to be a good program. I don’t know of too many officers that are against it,” Corporal Halverson mentioned. The program is built for safety and soon will be widespread enough to provide this safety for all students in Maryland public schools.

Article by MoCo Student staff writer Syllia Newstead of Richard Montgomery High School

About The MoCo Student

In 2012, Student Member of the Board of Education John Mannes created a countywide press network to help build a conduit to share fresh and relevant information written by youth to the wider Montgomery County student body.

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