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The Dripby Fern Shen10:26 amMar 27, 20180

Consultant hired to watch for police body-camera misconduct

New $45,000 position created to assist with prosecution and ensure “policy compliance” as body camera program expands

Above: A body camera video recorded on Jan. 24, 2017, appeared to show a Baltimore police officer, Richard A. Pinheiro Jr., placing a bag of white capsules inside a can in an alley. (Maryland Office of the Public Defender)

With Baltimore poised to pay nearly $7 million more to an Arizona-based company equipping police with body cameras, the city is also spending in-house to make sure officers are using them lawfully.

An item up for approval at tomorrow’s Board of Estimates meeting is $45,000 for a “video specialist” named Shannon L. Burleson to review body-worn camera footage for policy compliance.

Among other responsibilities, Burleson will have to “submit audit reports of body-worn camera footage reviews to supervisory staff, report potential misconduct to supervisory staff from body worn camera footage for further review, and maintain job performance statistics.”

The new position comes after numerous body camera videos have surfaced revealing questionable activity by Baltimore police. Officer Richard A. Pinheiro Jr. was indicted in January on charges of misconduct and fabricating evidence.

Pinheiro was shown in video footage placing a soup can into a trash-covered lot. That part of the footage had been recorded automatically before the officer turned on the camera.

After placing the can, Pinheiro was shown walking to the street and turning on the camera, then returning to the lot, picking up the can and removing a plastic bag of capsules.

Drug charges against the man arrested were withdrawn. More than 100 cases involving the three officers seen in the video were also dropped.

Preparing “Electronic Case Folders”

The spending board is set to award an additional $6.8 million for the body camera program.

The spending is an amendment to Baltimore’s $11.7 million body-worn camera contract with Axon Enterprise Inc., formerly Taser International Inc.

The company is equipping 2,500 city officers with body cameras and also providing training and support for the now $18.5 million program. The amendment before board, which is controlled by Mayor Catherine Pugh, extends the contract to 2023.

Under the terms of Burleson’s one-year contract, she will respond to requests from both the State’s Attorney’s Office as well as the Maryland Public Information Act, according to the job description on the agenda.

“She will create electronic case folders of arrest and traffic violations made by the Baltimore Police Department members to prepare as evidence for criminal prosecution, review body worn camera footage for policy compliance, and categorize body worn camera videos,” board documents added.

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