Montgomery County using 150 police body cameras in pilot program

- If you encounter a Montgomery County police officer, there’s a good chance you might be caught on camera.

Lieutenant Sean Renauer is part of a pilot project launched in June, which is putting 152 body cameras on some of the county’s police officers. For the first time this summer, video from a body camera was used in a disorderly persons trial in Silver Spring. Police say it settled the “he said, she said” factor often found in court testimony.

“Before we record somebody, we always tell them that they're being audio and video recorded,” said Lt. Renauer.

At a briefing Monday afternoon, members of the Montgomery County Council expressed concerns about privacy and warned police not to use the cameras to intimidate minorities.

“I can guarantee you that if that’s what it shows, then we’re going to have another discussion about what’s the very basis of an investigation,” said Montgomery County Councilman Marc Elrich.

Police say the cameras go on for things like investigations, traffic stops or questioning a person. The officer must state that they’re recording. Lt. Renauer says his camera has already become a conversation starter.

“Anytime I have something that will allow me to talk to the public, I think it's great,” said Lt. Renauer.

In this pilot phase, policies on privacy and public release of the videos are still being worked out. The police department is waiting for Maryland lawmakers to draft recommendations for the entire state.

The cost for Montgomery County’s pilot program is $155,000. If it’s rolled out full-time over the next five years, the price jumps to $5.5 million.

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