Anne Arundel County Adds Police Body Camera Funding to Proposed Budget
Anne Arundel County plans to outfit all county police officers with body-worn cameras in the coming year.
County Executive Steuart Pittman submitted budget amendments totaling close to $1.8 million for fiscal year 2021 for the camera program.
“I don’t know what it feels like to dread an interaction with police,” says Pittman. “But residents of our county who experience that fear tell me that the transparency offered by cameras can help. I also don’t know the anxiety that our officers experience when working to prevent violence, sometimes through the use of force. They tell me that the transparency offered by cameras can help. Doing this is smart policy in any time, and I’m glad that we now have the political support to make it happen.”
The amendment is expected to be voted on this week and is expected to pass, as it has wide support from county council members on both sides of the aisle.
“Body worn cameras will provide transparency and accountability while helping grow the relationship between our county officers and communities,” says Council member Jessica Haire (R-District 7).
This isn’t the first time the county has tried to implement the program. Pittman planned to include body cameras for police in the proposed budget introduced May 1, but plummeting county revenue estimates due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused the plan to be scrapped.
The recent murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked community leaders and advocates to demand the funding be added back into the budget. The Council GOP Caucus added their support on June 1. The original cost to fund the program was believed to be between $4 to $5 million. Alternate contracts were located and the annualized cost is now estimated to be between $2.2 to $2.8 million.
The cost includes cameras as well as new police department staffing positions to administer the program, review footage and provide technical support. The program has the support of the chief of police.
“This is the right thing to do,” says Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare. “Your police department supports any technology that invests in public trust.”