On Friday, December 17, the Anne Arundel County Police Department explained in a statement how the enactment of the new Maryland Police Accountability Act has forced the department to both hire additional contractors and reassign both officers and civilian workers to deal with the requirement.
“Because this law is an unfunded mandate, it creates significant operational burdens on the department’s civilian staff,” the statement released yesterday reads.
The police department wrote that it receives an average of 5,000 requests for police records each month as well as approximately 1,000 requests each month for body worn camera footage.
“All of these requests must be reviewed and manually redacted prior to release to protect personal privacy, including medical, witness, juvenile and complainant information,” the police department stated. “To compensate, it was necessary for the Department to hire additional contractual workers. Employees, both sworn and civilian, have also been reassigned from their normal operational duties to satisfy these requests within the time constraints required by law.”
The Body Worn Camera program was instituted at the Anne Arundel County Police Department this past July. Anne Arundel County legislation was passed last year to require body worn cameras for department personnell after the killing George Floyd, on May 25, 2020, by a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer.
While the Maryland Police Accountability Act makes some administrative or criminal investigations of misconduct by a police officer public, other records pertaining to technical infractions remain exempt from release.
Since the legislature and courts have not yet provided guidance on the terms used in this definition, agencies are left to use their best judgment to determine whether a record involves a technical infraction, creating implementation challenges.
A technical infraction is defined as a minor rule violation by an individual solely related to the enforcement of administrative rules that do not involve an interaction between a member of the public and the individual; does not relate to the individual’s investigative enforcement, training, supervision or reporting responsibilities; and is not otherwise a matter of public concern.
The Anne Arundel County Police Department stated “We are working tirelessly with our records management team and our Office of Law to ensure that what we release adheres to all laws governing the release of otherwise privileged information.”
For more information on the Maryland Police Accountability Act see the below link:
For more information on how to file an MPIA and the potential associated fees see the below link:
--compiled from press release
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