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Monday, 01 December 2014 00:00

Obama announces funding for 50,000 police body cameras

Written by Russell Brandom | The Verge

In an announcement today, the White House has pledged $263 million in new federal funding for police training and body cameras, including $75 million allocated specifically for the purchase 50,000 cameras for law enforcement officers across the country.

The training portion of the funds would go towards instructing police in the responsible use of paramilitary equipment like assault rifles and armored personnel carriers, much of which has flooded local departments as a result of a Homeland Security preparedness program. Additional funds will go to fund police outreach programs designed to build trust between local departments and the communities they serve.

The cameras are designed to provide a definitive record of police activities, and have become a frequent demand in the wake of the Ferguson protests. The protests began with the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager killed by the police in Ferguson. Community leaders pointed to video taken in aftermath Brown's death as evidence of police misconduct, and the subsequent outcry has triggered a Justice Department investigation. More recently, a widely shared video of Cleveland police shooting a 12-year-old named Tamir Rice has intensified the demand for video documentation of police activities. Last week, the parents of Michael Brown announced a campaign "to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera."

The new funding push is substantial, but 50,000 cameras will cover only a fraction of the more than 750,000 police officers currently employed in America. Camera proposals have also run into trouble with public records laws in states like Washington, which require the release of all police records not actively tied up in an investigation. With hundreds of hours of video generated by police cameras every day, that would present serious problems for both privacy and simple logistics.

Link to original article from The Verge

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