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Howard County to fund body-worn camera program for police

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball on Monday announced plans to file a budget amendment releasing county funding from contingency in the FY2022 operating budget for the county’s body-worn camera program.

If the budget amendment is approved by the County Council, Ball plans to use $1.6 million in American Rescue Plan to provide funding for the body-worn camera program beginning Oct. 5. With funding in place, the body-worn camera program will be fully implemented ahead of the 2023 Maryland General Assembly mandate pending Council approval of the budget amendment.

Following the filing of the county executive’s proposed budget, the state-mandated maintenance of effort funding level for the school system was significantly higher than anticipated, prompting adjustments to the proposed budget. At the conclusion of the budget process, the Howard County Council voted to place all remaining funding proposed for the body-worn camera program into contingency.

The Ball administration addressed programmatic and staffing questions from the council throughout the budget process in April and May, and again during a program presentation to the County Council at the end of June.

Combined with the $1 million in preliminary funding for equipment and licensing set aside during the FY2022 budget cycle and the nearly $500,000 in contingency, the additional $1.6 million will go toward fully funding this program immediately following council approval of Ball’s budget amendment. This total of $3.1 million in funding will go toward hiring 26 essential positions across the Police Department, State’s Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office, purchasing 600 cameras for 300 Howard County Police Department officers, expanding storage capacity and acquiring necessary software, and procuring additional equipment for deputies within the sheriff’s department.