Obama Calls For $US75m In Funding For 50,000 Police Body Cameras

Obama Calls For $US75 Million In Funding for 50,000 Police Body Cameras

Today, US President Barack Obama proposed $US263 million in funding to law enforcement to help avoid another disaster like the ongoing mess in Ferguson, Missouri.

The proposed three-year funding package contains $US75 million for a Body Worn Cameras Partnership, which would help states purchase and store the new equipment. It's important to note that the funding comes with the caveat of matching funds from the always tenuous coffers of the state governments.

Still, it's an important step towards getting the body cameras that demonstrably help reduce police violence against civilians. Cost is often cited as one of the major obstacles to implementing the technology.

The Hill was the first to report the new initiative.

After a federal grand jury failed to indict officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown last week, Brown's family called for a campaign to outfit all police with body cameras that record their interactions with people.

The rest of the funding will be used to provide training and resources for law enforcement on engaging with communities and reforming their practices.

In addition to the funding, President Obama will issue an executive order that will hopefully help overhaul how and when police get military weapons, which we've seen used against civilians in Ferguson and across the country. Much of the time the presence of this equipment only escalates situations and can lead to more civil unrest than it prevents.

In the order, which will be drafted in the coming months, the president will ask departments to list what equipment they need and why they need it. The order will also ask departments detailed accounting of federal equipment they buy and sell, as well as analysis of how it's used when deployed.

Today's announcement is full of language about future orders and evaluative task forces, so only the beginning of a much needed overhaul to community policing. Still, we can at least be happy that the the executive branch is taking the dissent in the streets seriously. [The White House via The Hill via The Verge]



    "he president will ask departments to list what equipment they need and why they need it."

    is this the most ridiculous thing you've ever read? this just seems so normal i can't believe it hasn't always been that way.

      Hmmm Reno PD have listed a giant cheese fondue fountain....well...im sure thats legitimate. Approved.

    As long as there are laws stating that an officer can't turn it off while on duty, and / or must retrieve the footage of an incident in less than 24 hours after the event, then I'm all for it.

    Plus some specific laws regarding the privacy of the footage would be good. Stuff that says a person involved in the incident can request the footage and some minimum level of security required to store the footage to ensure it's not mishandled.

    Individual states have way too much power, meaning laws relating to body cams would be all over the place and people would start crossing the border to commit crimes because of the lax laws in the neighbouring states.

      Don't think you'll get much privacy from it as typically police are survey and protecting public areas where it is legal to film so long as you have the consent of 1 other person. In this scenario that would be the partner officer and then for any private domains they would have a warrant to gain access and/or have probable cause which would extend their powers to continue filming in certain circumstances.

      I agree they need a unified policy/law system inplace regarding content of footage that can be requested under a PDA for residents. I hope they don't do the state-by-state scenario which they normally do in the USA.

      You need to allow officers to turn off the cameras while on breaks and using bathrooms, these are times when recordings should not be made.
      That being said, the footage should all be time stamped (and have GPS data if possible) and any time that the camera is being turned off the officer should announce why and it should have an automated timer that restarts it if the officer fails to do so manually. Maybe one button for meal break timing and another 5-10min for bathroom breaks (both recessed and needing to be held for a few seconds so as not to be able to accidentally be pushed), also a button for setting a flag on the video for incidents and other things that need reviewing (to make things easier to find later).
      When the footage is dumped at the end of shift any times it was turned off are reviewed for time and location to ensure correct use, any reported or flagged incidents during shift are also reviewed and the footage stored for a set period. If there are no complaints within a set period of time and the footage as a whole is not required as evidence (they may be required to provide the full footage and not just the incident in some cases), then any necessary footage is cut for archive and the rest deleted.
      Also, anyone making a complaint should just be able to provide the location of the incident and the rough time and a third party (similar to IA) should review the footage.
      I'm sure I've forgotten something there but that covers a decent amount of my view on the topic :P

        Well put. Yeah bathroom breaks and such don't need to be recorded, but I'm worried about scenarios like this: http://www.clickorlando.com/news/daytona-beach-police-officer-fired-after-body-camera-turned-off-during-arrest/25982532

        I suppose if it's a flag-and-review system, that'd work, but again, I'm worried that someone will press the button before a 'whoopin' and say "Whoops, my camera has stopped working".

        I think they're also looking at cameras on tasers, so it's constantly recording, but only keeps the footage when the thing is fired (e.g. when the trigger is pulled, it keeps the last 30 seconds, then 30 seconds after the firing). Unless the cop fires it while sitting on the restroompot, you've got no real privacy concerns.

        Perhaps the two can be linked somehow -- when a shot is fired, the body camera keeps the previous 2-3 minutes, then the next 2-3 after.

        Either way, I think these cameras are going to instil a bit of confidence in the cops. Right now a lot of people (including the friends of a friend of mine in the US, whose partner is a cop) have a resentment towards the police after they got pulled over that one time for speeding. A bit like the Bogan view of cops, where "all cops are scum because they try and stop me from speeding in my illegally modified car"

    As well as Police having these cameras mounted onto them. Should also make it compulsory for all cars to be fitted with dashboard cameras, imagine how many incidents would be solved by seeing who really is at fault.

      I'm all for dashboard cameras to compulsory if I still have full ownership of it, as in I don't want to be forced to show footage of something that could be used against me ie: going 2-4ks over the speed limit 3 months ago, on a Tuesday morning at 8:32am as I was going down a hill near a hungry jacks, with a blue toyota van in front of me etc...

      Similar logic to the internet ISP meta data stuff that's going on atm

      as long as dash cams are used the way they are now, I'm all for it :)

      Last edited 02/12/14 3:29 pm

        In the USA isn't it the fifth amendment right that you cannot wilfully incriminate yourself?

          Yes, which means you don't have to say they were breaking the law.

          They could easily subpoena the footage though, as it is not a person.

        True, i want the person who just ran that red light to be caught and not myself because while approaching the lights i was doing 3-4ks over the limit.

    these should be mandated on all public officials, along with a law that states that and refusal to use, or attempt to modify will result in instant dismissal and/or imprisonment.
    only that way will America free its self from official corruption and institutional racism

    They should start a Youtube channel with the footage. It'll be just like commercial TV; 99% boring crap and 1% bat-shit crazy stuff.

    Alternatively police officers in the US could just not shoot civilians so readily. The excuse "they were fearful for their safety" doesn't cut it when you have the ability to take someone's life. You deserve to be hung drawn and quartered if you make the wrong call on a decision that can have severe consequences.

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