Baltimore County Now
Police Training Commission to Develop Policy and Procedures
County Executive Kevin Kamenetz expressed his appreciation to Governor Larry Hogan for signing SB 482/HB 533, which was sponsored on behalf of the Kamenetz Administration to clarify issues relating to the County’s proposed use of cameras on police officers and Taser weapons.
“Under Maryland’s existing wiretap law,” said Kamenetz, “there was some concern whether our cameras could record audio without being in conflict of the state’s two-party consent rule. With this Bill, it clarifies that a police officer may utilize both video and audio in the course of official police duties. While there are still some details to be resolved as a result of late amendments to the Bill, we appreciate that the Governor signed this important measure into law. We are grateful as well to our County delegation members, and particularly Delegate Charles Sydnor and Senator Kathy Klausmeier for sponsoring this bill on our behalf.”
Recent Use of Taser Cameras
Baltimore County Police officers recently began using Tasers equipped with cameras that automatically record all events from the moment the Taser is removed from its case. A departmental committee is currently finalizing a study of the complex issues surrounding implementation of police body electronic devices. Kamenetz has previously indicated his support of the use of body cameras, pending receipt of the police department report, which is due in the next ninety days.
The amendments to the Bill signed by Governor Hogan require the Police Training Commission to develop a policy and procedures for the issuance and use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement officers, and also establishes a commission to study and make recommendations.
Protecting the Rights of Citizens and Officers
“This Bill is necessary to carve out an exception to the two-party consent law in Maryland, said Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson. “This will allow officers to record their interactions with the public during their official duties if Baltimore County were to decide to use the body camera.”
“We’re pleased this piece of legislation passed and was signed into law because it allows us to at least examine what role video and audio recordings could have in Baltimore County,” said Baltimore County States Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
“Given the current events that have taken place all across the country, and particularly in Maryland, I can think of no better time than now to implement the use of video and audio devices by our law enforcement officers to aid in ensuring that our officers and citizens’ rights are protected,” said Baltimore County Delegate Charles Sydnor of District 44B.
Natalie Litofsky, Public Safety Office of Media and Communications
If you’re planning to take a vacation this holiday season, it’s important for you to add home security to your travel safety checklist. There are simple precautions you can take to keep your home protected from both theft and damage. Just a few extra minutes spent securing your home will help give you the peace of mind to enjoy your trip.
Lock all doors and windows
While most people remember to lock the main door of the home, it’s important to check all the entry points to the house. This includes sliding doors, basement doors, and the interior door that leads to the garage. It’s also essential to lock the windows on each level of your home, not just the ground floor.
Turn off electronics
To help save on energy costs and avoid potential hazards, turn off and unplug small electronics while you’re away. Examples would be items such as a toaster, coffee maker, hair dryer or fan. Larger electronics such as computers and televisions should be plugged into a surge protector in case of sudden power loss.
Water and heat
If you live in an area where pipes are likely to freeze, it’s important to make sure your furnace stays running while you’re away. Most programmable thermostats have a “vacation mode” that will keep your home above freezing while still conserving energy. If you plan to be away for an extended period of time, you may want to consider turning off the water supply from outside your home and draining the pipes.
Perform a maintenance check
Check to be sure there are fresh batteries in your smoke detectors. Make sure that exterior lights have working bulbs to keep the property illuminated at night, and use a timer to turn them on and off. You should also prepare for the possibility of snow while you’re on vacation. Arrange for someone to shovel your walkways and driveway while you’re out of town. Not only is this important for the safety of your neighbors, but it also prevents would-be burglars from knowing the home is not occupied.
Notify a neighbor
Tell a trusted neighbor the dates you’re leaving and returning home. If they know you’re out of town, they’ll be more likely to notice and report suspicious activity. If you’ll be away for more than a day, ask if they’re willing to collect your mail and newspapers. A pile of unclaimed mail is a red flag for would-be thieves that nobody is home. If there is no one available to collect your mail, you can also speak with the post office about stopping mail delivery for the duration of your trip.
Don’t broadcast your location
Social media sites are great ways to keep in touch with friends and family, but they’re also great tools for burglars to use in choosing targets. Don’t post photos or statements that would let someone know that you’re away from home. You should also refrain from using a location “check-in” app that places you out of town. If you want to keep in touch with a friend or family member while you’re away, do so using a more private form of communication such as an email or text message.
Natalie Litofsky, Public Safety Office of Media and Communications
From the spooky decorations to the scary costumes, Halloween is a holiday that embraces the fun side of fear. Though zombies and vampires are imaginary dangers, it’s important to watch out for a real safety hazard on Halloween – cars.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Halloween is the second-deadliest day of the year for pedestrians.
Parents and children alike should remember these road safety tips while trick-or-treating:
· Trick-or-treat while there is still daylight. The sun sets around 6 p.m., so keep this in mind when planning your route. Talk with your neighbors in advance to let them know you’ll be trick-or-treating earlier in the evening.
· Stay within a familiar neighborhood. This is the best way to travel where you know there are safe places to cross the street.
· Be a role model when it comes to obeying pedestrian traffic laws. Cross only at a crosswalk or intersection, and only when signal indicates you may cross. Tell your kids to walk on the sidewalk. If there are no walkways, stay as close to the curb as possible.
· Provide children with flashlights or other non-flammable light sources so they can see and be seen while walking. Glow bracelets or reflective tape are also a good way to increase visibility after dark.
· If your child’s costume includes a mask, make sure the eye holes do not obstruct vision. Try a test walk down a hallway in your home to practice looking for traffic while wearing a mask.
· Kids should always be accompanied by an adult while trick-or-treating. As a general rule, it’s best to have one adult for every three to six children.
· If you are driving a car on Halloween, be aware of the increase in pedestrian traffic. Obey the posted speed limit, make sure your headlights are on and keep an eye out for pedestrians along the roadway.
More useful information on pedestrian safety can be found online at Baltimore County’s Walk Safe resource page.