Press Release: Pittman budget proposes Police body cameras

Press Release: Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced that he will submit a package of supplemental budget amendments to the County Council to provide funding for body worn cameras for the police department. The amendments will total approximately $1.8 million for fiscal year 2021. Many community leaders and advocates have called for adding funding for body worn cameras to the budget in response to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. “I don’t know what it feels like to dread an interaction with police,” said County Executive Steuart 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.” County Executive Pittman intended to include funding for body worn cameras in the proposed FY21 budget introduced on May 1, but ultimately deferred it after revenue estimates plummeted by $63 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Estimates at that time indicated that the FY21 cost would be $4 - 5 million. Since then, the Administration has pursued alternate contract models and has reduced the cost estimates. The annualized cost is now expected to be between $2.2 - $2.8 million, which would represent a five year contract cost of approximately $11 - $14 million. "I am encouraged by the efforts to push ahead with the Body Worn Camera Program for our Police Department in Anne Arundel County,” said County Council Chair Allison Pickard (District 2). “We can all be proud of this collaborative effort by the Administration, the County Council, the Police Department, and our community. It gives me hope when we all come together for a common purpose." “The senseless death of George Floyd spotlights the risks and realities faced by black communities,” said Councilmember Jessica Haire (District 7). “Body worn cameras will provide transparency and accountability while helping grow the relationship between our county officers and communities.  I'm thankful for everyone who has voiced their opinion on this issue." The proposal will allow the county to outfit all police officers with body worn cameras. Part of the cost is for new positions in the police department and State Attorney’s Office to administer the program, review footage, and provide technical support. The proposal is similar to active body worn camera programs in other Maryland jurisdictions. Police Chief Timothy Altomare supports the initiative. “I am extremely happy to hear the County Executive and County Council found a way to fund our body worn camera program,” said Chief Altomare. “This is the right thing to do. Your police department supports any technology that invests in public trust. The addition of body worn cameras is an opportunity to show the community and nation who we are as police officers entrusted with the safety of our residents, visitors, and everyone in our community.” The supplemental budget amendments will be submitted to the County Council in advance of its meeting on June 5 at 9:00 a.m. The Council is not expected to vote on the amendments until Tuesday, June 9.