*******Ocean City Attorney Brian Clark reflects on the new bodycam program by the Ocean City MD Police this summer.
Will a body cam video of the entire encounter and arrest be helpful in your case? What about the video of what occurred at the police station during the booking process? Will the Judge be shown the video in your case? The answer is—it depends. First, let’s get a wider perspective.
The OCPD has utilized in-car fixed cameras in patrol vehicles for many years. These cameras are not in every patrol car, but they are used frequently enough to make a difference in many DUI cases. These videos can hurt the defense‘s case and sometimes it is the deciding factor in tipping the scales to a “not guilty” verdict.
Now, due to a new Maryland law, all summer and full-time officers here in Ocean City, MD will be required to wear body cameras affixed to their mid-chest area by 2025. The police and town council have decided to move forward with the program this summer instead of waiting a few years.
The Worcester County States Attorney’s Office will be hiring additional staff to handle this massive video influx. The laws of discovery require that all video footage of your arrest be provided to the defense attorney prior to resolving your case in court. A typical arrest in Ocean City could usually involve 2 to 5 police officers who may arrive on the scene. This will be a lot of video footage to review. Attorney Clark has experience reviewing body cam footage in agencies outside Ocean City that have had the technology for years. In many instances, it’s crucial to review this footage with his clients to prepare a defense.
The videos will contain audio and need to be cross-checked with the written police report for any omissions, errors, or misinterpretations. Many times, the body cam video on an officer will capture a snippet of crucial footage, even though he wasn’t the arresting officer. It’s important that the attorney you choose to represent you is compensated adequately and has the time and professionalism needed to analyze all footage.
There can be no shortcuts when dealing with a criminal or serious traffic matter that will be seen publicly on websites and databases for future employers and family/friends to access. Attorney Clark will make a judgment on whether the video is helpful or not and whether it needs to be used in a disputed trial or for mitigation in a plea.
It’s unlikely in a District Court case, that the prosecutor will be able to personally review all bodycam footage on dozens of cases that are handled each day. This may result in cases being delayed if the prosecutor needs extra time to prepare for trial. Attorney Clark will be prepared to argue to the presiding judge against any excessive postponements requested by the prosecutor.
Attorney Clark has found that body cam footage is very helpful in most cases. He has encountered it in countless cases during his 14 years defending persons accused of criminal and traffic matters in District Court in other jurisdictions prior to exclusively focusing on Ocean City cases at the 65th street courthouse.
As each year unfolds, video footage from fixed cameras at bars, restaurants, and public buildings become more commonplace in all Court cases. The town of Ocean City has skillfully used the City Watch boardwalk cameras to exonerate and convict many high-profile cases that would never have been solved without this video.
It’s important that your attorney discusses and reviews any and all video footage prior to agreeing to a settlement disposition in your criminal or traffic case. Unfortunately, there will always be attorneys who try to cut corners and resolve cases without reviewing all the evidence. With Attorney Brian Clark, you can rest assured that no shortcuts will be taken in your case and you will have the peace of knowing all the facts of your arrest.