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Pass Kwamena’s Law: Expand police body-worn camera use

March 17, 2022

As a fellow member of the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability, we share this action alert from the ACLU of Maryland.

Stop the next tragedy before it happens.

Kwamena Ocran was shot and killed in January of 2021 by plainclothes officers from the Gaithersburg City Police Department. Since they weren’t in uniform, these officers were not wearing body-worn cameras and a grand jury (without the benefit of the recordings) did not criminally charge them.

Shortly after, the General Assembly passed SB71, which requires county and state police use body-worn cameras. But that doesn’t apply to the plainclothes municipal officers who killed Kwamena. That is not police accountability.

The Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability is leading the effort to pass Kwamena’s Law to fix this. The bill seeks to fill in the missing pieces in our statewide body-worn camera law that leave too many police/civilian interactions unrecorded.

Police officers are more likely to be held accountable if there is footage of police interactions – the trial of Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd proved that.

In Montgomery County, three of the five men killed by police in 2021 were killed by off-duty officers. In April 2021, David Hall Dixon, an off-duty Pentagon Police Officer, shot and killed Dominique Williams and James Johnson in Takoma Park. In February 2021, less than a month after police killed Kwamena Ocran, an off-duty Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy killed Kevin Costlow in Rockville.

How many more lives will be lost before this gap is fixed?

Tell legislators not to wait for the next tragedy. Tell them to vote “yes” on Kwamena’s Law (HB429) and expand police body-worn camera use to include: plainclothes officers, armed off-duty officers, and municipal police departments.

Thanks for taking action for Kwamena Ocran.