Some 1,500 cameras will be given to police officers in July, along with one week of training. A public engagement campaign will be launched to ensure that residents are aware of the technology.
(TNS) — Anne Arundel County will purchase about 1,500 body-worn cameras from law enforcement equipment technology company Axon for implementation starting in July, police spokesperson Sgt. Kam Cooke said Monday.
Each sworn officer will receive two cameras for a freshly charged device each shift, Cooke said. The department will acquire about 50 extra devices in order to replace any malfunctioning cameras.
Cooke said the devices are part of a multi-year bundle that also includes tasers and a data storage system called evidence.com. The cameras were approved in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget with a supplemental appropriation of about $1.1 million to the FY21 budget, which was drafted using an estimate from the vendor, said Budget Officer Chris Trumbauer.
The county estimates that the average cost per officer will be about $15,400 over the first five years, including cameras, mounts, data storage and software licenses, but does not include the new positions needed to manage or support the program.
Axon carries several different body camera models, of which Anne Arundel has selected the Body 3 model. The device has the capacity to live stream, LTE connection, reduced motion blur and enhanced low-light capacity.
Axon outfits police departments and other law enforcement agencies around the world with cameras and other equipment. According to its website, the largest purchase from the company was 22,000 Axon cameras from the London Metropolitan Police Service; In the United States, it was 7,545 from the Los Angeles Police Department. Annapolis police chose Axon for its body camera program.
The company touts body cameras leading to decreased use of force, improved behavior of suspects and the quality of evidence gathered to reduction in the number of false complaints filed.
The county will launch a community engagement campaign to ensure that residents of the county are aware of how the devices work, how footage is stored, and what the new cameras mean for them.
The plan community engagement piece is important, Pittman said.
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"Because people need to understand the rules, when they're on, when they're off, who has access to the footage... and how they change the everyday work of a police officer," Pittman said.
Anne Arundel County's new Police Chief Amal Awad has previously led the Hyattsville Police Department which was equipped with body-worn cameras. Cooke said the details of any town hall events or other programming have yet to be ironed out.
The first cameras will be on officers by the first week of July, Cooke said. They will begin with one week of training, where 100 officers will receive one full day of training, and then pause the training after the first week to work out any kinks, and address any issues or bugs, he said.
The decision to go with Axon comes more than a year after Pittman first floated the idea, prompted by a state police report that showed Anne Arundel with the highest number of hate crimes and bias incidents reported in the state. Though he said the police department was not to blame for the incident rate, he said the cameras might help build trust in the community.
After the coronavirus pandemic decimated Fiscal Year 2021 revenue projections, Pittman pulled police body cameras from the budget.
He added them again shortly after the police killing of George Floyd after Black community leaders made public calls for cameras, and he had bipartisan support from the Anne Arundel County Council.
©2021 The Capital, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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