TOWSON, Md. —
A Maryland defense attorney said police body worn camera video helped his client and the devices should be used statewide.
The use of body cameras by law enforcement sparked a heated debate during a hearing Wednesday on police reform and accountability.
Police body camera video obtained by the 11 News I-Team shows an officer traveling south in the 1800 block of York Road in Lutherville when his patrol car got hit. No one was injured, but police had many questions for the other driver.
“When he finally realized that it was converting over into they suspected him of doing something, he stopped talking, literally, he stopped talking,” defense attorney Larry Greenberg said.
In the December 2017 police body camera video Greenberg shared with 11 News, an officer can be heard saying: “You admitted to me you had two glasses of wine. That’s fine. Two glasses of wine for everybody is not impaired. I don’t want to lock you up if I don’t have to.”
Greenberg says said officers twice turned off their cameras, and his client denies saying anything about drinking. Police arrested the man after he refused to take a chemical breath test. The charges against him were later dropped.
“Bodycams are an incredible asset to the police department. No. 1, probably more often than not, it will substantiate the officer’s allegations,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg said he believes that in this case, the body camera video helped his client. He supports police departments using body cameras statewide.
Baltimore County police officially began using body cameras in October 2017. The video involving Greenberg’s client was recorded two months later.
Currently, the Baltimore County Police Department has 1,455 body cameras, but not all officers get them. According to the Baltimore County Police Field Manual, “the use of body worn cameras is required during enforcement or investigative activity (traffic stops, arrests) but officers can deactivate the cameras for these reasons, including to protect someone’s privacy.”
Greenberg doesn’t think officers should be allowed to turn the cameras off.
“An officer should not have the ability to turn it on or off, period. If it’s on, it’s on. If it’s off, it’s off and you better explain why,” Greenberg said.
A debate continues over body cameras statewide and what officers should be allowed to do and not do with them.