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Frostburg State University Becomes First Allegany County Law Enforcement Agency to Fully Deploy Body-Worn Cameras
09/19/2016

Frostburg State University Becomes First Allegany County Law Enforcement Agency to Fully Deploy Body-Worn Cameras
FSU Police Cpl. Todd Pressman speaks to a student on FSU’s campus while wearing one of the department’s new body-worn cameras on his chest.

Frostburg State University Police are now using body-worn cameras, making it the first and only police agency in Allegany County to fully deploy the technology.

The department will use the 14 cameras as an enhancement tool for evidence when responding to calls for service, initiating a citation or arrest and during knock-and-talk visits in the community. Cameras will not be on all the time for certain situations, such as in a sexual assault investigation, to protect a victim’s privacy.

“These body-worn cameras provide transparency and provide an independent perspective of what’s going on,” FSU Chief of Police Cynthia Smith said.

Officers will inform people they encounter that they are being audibly and visually recorded and will activate and deactivate recording manually.

Cpl. Todd Pressman noticed that some people change their behavior for the better when told they are being recorded. During one patrol, a driver stopped for speeding was animated and upset, but the interaction improved after Pressman informed the driver that he was on camera.

“He was very cooperative,” Pressman said. “He said, ‘I really appreciate that officer. You have a good day.’”

The chief echoed Pressman’s observations.

“It causes people to respond intellectually instead of responding emotionally,” Smith said.

FSU Police received the body-worn cameras last year, but waited until this year to deploy them because a law was passed the following month that ordered the Maryland Police Training Commission to develop a policy for body-worn camera use by local law enforcement. That policy then served as guidance for University Police to create its own policy.

Student organization leaders commended the department for choosing to use the technology.

“The voluntary nature of the policy speaks volumes about the force’s dedication to transparency and their ongoing mission to hold themselves to the highest standards possible,” Student Government Association President Nick DeMichele said. “It’s a progressive move by the department, commendable during a time of increased scrutiny for law enforcement officers nationwide.”

“We are fully supportive of the FSU Police and their decision to use body-worn cameras. Their innovative efforts make us fully aware that their number one priority is to keep the campus safe,” said Black Student Alliance President Dasia Scott. “We appreciate their willingness to be transparent and look forward to seeing the continuous growth the department has in store.”

FSU and the Frostburg Community Coalition received the 10 cameras from a Maryland Strategic Prevention Framework Grant, which provided money from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to reduce underage access to alcohol and high-risk use among young adults in the Frostburg area. About $9,400 from the grant was used to purchase the cameras and related software. The additional four cameras were bought with University funds.

The cameras are manufactured by VieVu, have a 95-degree field of view and record in high definition. The cameras are worn in the chest area of an officer’s uniform. While the cameras cannot capture everything that occurs at an incident, the recording can enhance the officer’s reporting, Smith said. Back-up officers arriving on the scene with cameras can provide an additional view of a scene as well.

Evidence from the cameras is already being included in court proceedings, and footage will always be sent as part of a case file when body-worn cameras were used. A sergeant is assigned to be the body-worn camera supervisor to review video and maintain the database.

For more information about University Police, visit www.frostburg.edu/admin/police.

Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit www.frostburg.edu or facebook.com/frostburgstateuniversity. Follow FSU on Twitter @frostburgstate.

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For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589
E-mail: news@frostburg.edu