The UMBC Police Department successfully deployed the body-worn camera (BWC) program in June 2023. All officers are now equipped with a BWC to record interactions between police and the community. The Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 requires Maryland agencies to use BWCs by July 2025, but UMBC Police elected to implement the program early to increase transparency and strengthen our relationship with the campus community.
The UMBC Police BWC policy is based on standards set by the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission in compliance with the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is required to wear a BWC?
When is the BWC activated?
The BWC will record and save 60 seconds of video footage immediately prior to activation (Md. Code, Pub. Safety § 3-511). When activated, the BWC will record and save video and audio until deactivation.
BWCs are automatically activated every time an officer turns on emergency equipment in a patrol car.
Officers are required to activate the BWC at the initiation of:
- A call for service or other law enforcement action;
- An encounter between the officer and a member of the public that is investigative or enforcement in nature;
- Any encounter that becomes confrontational after the initial contact; and/or
- Any other incident the officer reasonably believes should be recorded for law enforcement purposes, including any situation an officer believes may result in use of force, when not otherwise prohibited by law or department policy.
This includes traffic stops, arrests, interviews, searches, and transports.
Do officers have to tell me I am being recorded?
Officers are required to notify individuals they are being recorded at the initiation of contact or as soon as practical and safe.
What if I don’t want to be recorded?
Victims or witnesses during a voluntary interaction may request the officer to stop (or not start) the BWC. Officers may honor these requests but are not required to stop recording if it is pursuant to investigation, arrest, lawful search, or the circumstances clearly indicate that continued recording is necessary.
Can officers delete or alter recordings?
No, officers cannot delete or alter recordings.
If a recording is released to the public, recordings are duplicated for redaction (blurred images and/or muted or distorted audio) to protect the privacy of uninvolved persons or comply with the Maryland Public Information Act and other applicable laws. The original, unredacted recording is retained in the file storage system.
How long are recordings retained?
Recordings will be kept for at least the minimum time required under all applicable laws and policies. The BWC recording categories and retention periods are as follows:
- Homicide & Rape: 80 years
- Felony: 10 years
- Misdemeanor: 4 years
- Serious Traffic & Accident: 4 years
- Miscellaneous & Non-Criminal: 72 weeks
- Routine Traffic: 2 years
- Accidental Activation: 60 days
- Training: 60 days
- Internal Affairs/Complaints: Indefinite
A public information request must be submitted to the UMBC Office of General Counsel. Requests may be submitted at: https://ogc.umbc.edu/requests/.