Maryland police departments are increasingly providing their officers with body cameras. In Baltimore County alone, over 800 officers have them.
The video recorded by these cameras can help prosecutors gain important evidence. Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenber says that video evidence form body cams "helps us about 95 percent of the time."
They can be a benefit to citizens as well. Body cams can help exonerate those who are arrested for a crime they didn't commit. They can also provide evidence of police actions during an arrest that were inappropriate, illegal or denied a detainee his or her rights
The problem with all of this relatively new body cam evidence is that state's attorney's offices throughout Maryland don't have enough staff to review the videos and prepare them for prosecutors in a timely manner. The Baltimore County State's Attorney's Office even opened a special body camera unit to help process body cam video evidence.
Processing body cam evidence properly is essential. Evidence specialists have to censor personal information and block out faces to protect the safety of innocent people. As Shellenberger explains, "If we turn over personal information and it gets to the defendant, somebody could get hurt."
If you are arrested, it's important to note whether the officers are wearing body cameras and if they are turned on. If you believe that any video evidence the cameras have picked up could exonerate you, let your attorney know so that he or she can work to get it processed as soon as possible. Even if you don't think it could contain anything of value to you, your attorney can determine that once the footage is released.
Source: WBAL TV 11, "Prosecutors increase staff to process police body-camera video," Lowell Melser, July 12, 2017