A consortium of Black organizations, listed below, demand that Anne Arundel County Executive, Steuart Pittman, continue to include body cameras in the County’s 2021 fiscal budget.
After years of urging by community groups, body cameras were included in the county’s 2021 budget at an estimated cost of $5,200,000.00. However, the County Executive has recently stated to civil rights leader, Carl Snowden, that body cameras will not be included in next year’s budget.
In the County Executive’s recent budget address, Pittman cited shortfalls exacerbated by the global pandemic as the reason for budgetary changes, . The County’s website states:
“…[b]udget absorbs $63 million revenue shortfall and funds core services without tax increases.”
While we are aware of the need to make budget cuts during these difficult times, it is our opinion that cutting police body cameras from next year’s budget is an error in judgment, as body cameras are the tools needed to protect both the police from false allegations and the community from rogue policing tactics. Therefore, body cameras should be considered essential equipment for the Anne Arundel County police department.
A number of the groups listed below were instrumental in the City of Annapolis Police Department implementing its use of body cameras in 2017. This successful integration into the city police policy and practice has contributed significantly to transparency. For example, a March 15, 2019 Capital Gazette opinion editorial, “Why Did it take so Long to Fire Annapolis Police Chief Scott Baker,” illuminates the need for body cameras in modern policing.
In the editorial, Jacqueline Boon-Allsup, President of the Anne Arundel Branch of the NAACP, illustrates how the body cameras helped provide damning evidence against several police officers who acted inappropriately. In one instance, a City Police officer used a knife to cut the undergarment off a suspected drug dealer in the Eastport Terrace community. The entire event was captured on videotape. Police officers are not allowed to use a knife for this purpose.
The recent death of George Floyd at the hands of rogue Minneapolis police officers, who were seen on tape exhibiting unnecessary and undue force in their interaction with the victim, George Floyd, demonstrates the importance of video evidence. As a result of the police officers’ nefarious acts, the city of Minneapolis is now ablaze and looks more like a war zone. The respective governments will certainly be subject to millions of dollars in liability lawsuits. It just takes one rogue police officer or one innocent misconception and Anne Arundel County, Maryland could easily be the next Minneapolis.
Carl Snowden stated:
“The Caucus of African American Leaders refuses to accept the notion that Anne Arundel County Government is unable to provide funding for body cameras. The communities that are the most vulnerable to police misconduct are Black and Brown communities. However, everyone benefits from body cameras because it brings transparency into the discussion and helps resolve issues before they reach the stage of litigation.”
Jacqueline Boon-Allsup of the NAACP and the Apostle Larry Lee Thomas have stated, respectively:
“The NAACP joins with other civil rights organizations in demanding that body cameras be required, because while they are not a panacea to solving every problem in the community – they are a step in the right direction.”
“The United Black Clergy and its members are tired of providing eulogies for members of our community that are involved in controversial shootings, which do not have body cameras.”
All of the groups below support including body cameras in the 2021 fiscal budget:
• Caucus of African American Leaders
• Anne Arundel County Branch of the NAACP
• Anne Arundel County Chapter of the Continental Societies Inc.
• Anne Arundel County Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women
• United Black Clergy
• Connecting the Dots
• Citizens Actively Seeking Transparency
• Arundel Bay Area Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc.
For questions, please contact:
Jacqueline Boon-Allsup 443-883-5151
Carl Snowden 443-871-5656
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