Baltimore Maryland bill would require police officers to wear body cameras, but Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blakesays she will veto the bill.

Baltimore Maryland Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

It’s agreed that body cameras to combat police brutality in the city are on their way, but who decides when and how?

When Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Councilman Warren Branch saw video footage of a Baltimore police office striking a man who was at a bus stop on North Avenue in September, their reaction to the incident was to present a bill that would require all city officers to have body cameras on their person within the next year.  The bill was passed by the council’s public safety committee last week and will be presented for a vote by the entire council on November 10, but Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has already stated that she will veto the measure when it gets to her desk.

The problem, according to the mayor, lies in the fact that the city council has no legal right to interfere with the authority of the city’s police commissioner.  Forcing the bill through the city council would be an illegal and poorly considered move, she says.

In fact, Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts have established a task force to investigate the matter of police brutality after The Baltimore Sun ran an article revealing that the city has paid out $5.7 million in over 100 civil lawsuits during the past three years alone.  All of the suits filed alleged some form of police misconduct, which raised a serious red flag for the city’s administrators.

The mayor and the police commissioner have given their task force three months to complete their inquiry, frustrating members of the council who claim that the problem is too urgent to wait.  While both sides can agree that body cameras for police is a good idea to help combat police brutality, the gist of the argument seems to come down to who has the authority to institute the idea and how it should be rolled out.  While council members want the cameras in place within a year, the mayor and her team have suggested that body cameras should play only one part of a more comprehensive approach to curbing the issue.

While the debate about who has the proper authority to implement such a program has made its way to the state attorney general’s office, it would appear that there’s no question that body cameras for Baltimore police are coming.  As the mayor made clear in a statement last week, “…residents should know that no matter what happens during the City Council process, the city is going to have body cameras.”

Courtesy of Body Cameras

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