Baltimore County Police (and the Auxilary Police unit) are getting some heat from the internet and concerned citizens over an incident that happened early Sunday morning as the bars in Towson were letting out.
At about 1:45AM, police were in the process of arresting 2 individuals in the middle of York Rd. outside of The Melting Pot restaurant when an officer noticed a man filming the incident. The office confronted the man and aggressively told him to stop filming. Eventually an Auxiliary officer joined in – exchanging some choice words with the individual.
Watch the video of the incident below.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Baltimore County Government press office released the following statement:
Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson today said that the investigation of a February 23 incident in Towson, captured on a citizen’s video, will examine the actions of a citizen auxiliary police officer as well as of BCoPD officers.
“The words of and demands to cease filming by sworn personnel and citizen volunteer auxiliary officers were incorrect, inappropriate and unnecessary,” Chief Johnson said this morning. “They were not helpful in bringing this incident to closure. As we already have stated, all aspects of this encounter are under investigation, and all personnel will be held accountable for their actions.”
The auxiliary sergeant – seen in the video confronting the young man recording the incident and telling him he “lost” his rights – has been restricted to administrative volunteer duties pending the outcome of the investigation. His name is being withheld pending the outcome of the investigation. He has been a member of the Auxiliary for 22 years.
BCoPD also will review the actions of BCoPD supervisors involved in the incident depicted in the video of the incident in the 400 block of York Road at about 1:45 a.m. Sunday, when officers from several agencies worked to control a disturbance.
Johnson, who reviewed the video multiple times, said the language used by officers in the video and the statements about the citizen’s lack of constitution rights are simply wrong. “This Department enjoys a good relationship with its citizens largely because of its longstanding commitment to treating people with respect for their rights. Our personnel will be held accountable if they fail to do that,” he said.
The person filming the video, who was not arrested, has not filed a complaint and has not approached BCoPD. Investigators are trying to identify and contact him because they believe his story will help them build a complete picture of what happened.
The question of whether citizens may record video of police officers was settled by the Maryland courts several years ago. Since that ruling, BCoPD has directed its personnel to respect the legal right of citizens to record officers on duty, in a public place, unless the person filming has violated a law or statute. BCoPD’s command staff reminded sworn supervisors of this legal right this morning.