Ocean City Body Camera

All Ocean City Police Department full-time officers, public safety aids, and seasonal officers are now outfitted with Axon body cameras, according to Chief Ross Buzzuro. The chief set a goal last fall to have all staff members in the field equipped with the devices by summer 2022.

When it was proposed last fall, the goal of outfitting every Ocean City police officer, seasonal officer, and public safety aide with a body-worn camera by summer of 2022 may have seemed overly ambitious to some, but it is now officially a reality.

Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro told the Police Commission on Monday that everyone in the department is now trained on and wearing a body camera in the field.

“They’ve already been a good tool,” the chief said of the body cameras.

The department began testing cameras from vendors back in November 2021 after the top brass committed to getting cameras on all officers in the field by the summer.

State legislators passed a law in early 2021 requiring all police agencies in Maryland to employ body cameras by 2025, except for State Police, which must have them in place by 2023. Since the measure’s passing, state legislators have yet to put a funding mechanism in place for the cameras.

After testing cameras from three vendors, the Ocean City Council voted to have Axon provide the devices and services for $2.5 million. The contract was to have all 116 full-time officers, seasonal officers, and seasonal aids outfitted with the cameras.

Along with the cameras, Axon is providing battery packs, training, support, unlimited storage of videos and evidence on the cloud, a suite that allows sharing and managing of videos, and transcription.

Ocean City pounced on the initiative to outfit its officers after a string of incidents in the resort over the past few years, including in June 2021 when police were captured on camera tasing a black man who appeared to be taking off his backpack, and another officer was seen ramming his knee into the ribs of another black man.

When the City Council agreed to enter a contract with Axon in February in a 5-1 vote, with Councilman John Gehrig voting against it, Mayor Rick Meehan said the cameras are more about the safety of the officers in the field who have cameras pointed at them.

After incidents occur, clips soon appear online showing part of what happened and not the whole story.

“I think we’ll be in a better position to protect our officers,” Meehan said at the time.

After that vote, the challenge was in place for the department to get moving, and the department followed through.

The chief and his staff credited the department’s staff of knowledgeable instructors for getting the cameras on the officers and getting them trained.

The next step is getting the forensics division involved with the cameras and the video they shoot. Part of the phase also includes figuring out how to handle all the new evidence, which will then be handed over to State’s Attorney Kris Heiser.

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