Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Justice Department Allocates $20 Million for Body Cameras

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Justice Department Allocates $20 Million for Body Cameras

Article excerpt

Following a pattern of police shootings of minorities, including recent shootings in Tulsa, Okla., and Charlotte, N.C., the United States Justice Department announced that it will award $20 million to police departments that wish to introduce body camera policies.

The Justice Department's Monday announcement affects 106 state, city, municipal, and tribal law enforcement agencies in 32 states, and will help those departments institute and implement body camera programs.

"These grants will help more than 100 law enforcement agencies promote transparency and ensure accountability, clearing the way for the closer cooperation between residents and officers that is so vital to public safety," said Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday.

The Department of Justice launched its Body Worn Camera program last year, after a recommendation by the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Enthusiasm for body cameras has been high in some quarters, where advocates say they could reduce violence. Others, however, caution that cameras are effective only when the proper policies are in place.

"Everyone behaves better" when body cameras are in use, according to a report released by the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing in March 2015. That report showed evidence that uses of force by both officers and citizens was reduced when body cameras were present.

Based on this evidence and the conviction that this is the direction in which policing is moving, several cities have already instituted body camera programs or have obtained funding in order to implement them in the future.

Police officers in Ferguson, Mo., now wear cameras, for example, as do those in Colorado Springs and Los Angeles. In Boston, the city's Police Patrolman's Association pushed back against Mayor Marty Walsh's plans for a pilot program this year. Mr. Walsh responded by making the program mandatory.

Tulsa, one of the cities involved in the most recent police violence scandals, obtained a $600,000 grant last year to implement a body camera program, although there are not yet equipped with the cameras. …

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