Create a bill, sign into law, and set aside funds to require all state,county, and local police, to wear a camera. Due to the latest accounts of deadly encounters with police, We the People, petition for the Mike Brown Law. Create a bill, sign into law, and set aside funds to require all state,county, and local police, to wear a camera.The law shall be made in an effort to not only detour police misconduct(i.e. brutality, profiling, abuse of power), but to ensure that all police are following procedure, and to remove all question, from normally questionable police encounters. As well, as help to hold all parties within a police investigation, accountable for their actions.
Response to Petition
By Roy L. Austin, Jr.
Since the officer-involved shooting death of Michael Brown on August 9, the nation and the world have borne witness to unrest in the city of Ferguson, Missouri. Across the country, there has been a demand for answers about the circumstances under which Michael was killed, and a demand for solutions.
The petition you added your name to -- proposing a law that would require all state, county, and local police to wear a camera -- is potentially one such solution. Thank you for adding your name, and for participating in this debate via the We the People platform.
There's understandably been much discussion about whether law enforcement officers across the country should use body cameras. In fact, for years, this Administration has advanced the use of cameras, both body-worn and vehicular, and recognized the numerous benefits to making cameras available to law enforcement officers. We support the use of cameras and video technology by law enforcement officers, and the Department of Justice continues to research best practices for implementation.
Today, the Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services Office (COPS) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) released a report from a September 2013 conference analyzing some of the costs and benefits of law enforcement using body-worn video technology. Some of the benefits the report cites include, but are not limited to:
- Evidence that both officers and civilians acted in a more positive manner when they were aware that a camera was present;
- New opportunities for effective training of law enforcement officers presented by the use of cameras; and
- Useful evidence of interactions was often captured on video
It was noted at this conference that police departments are increasingly adopting the use of body-worn cameras.
In July 2012, to address allegations of unconstitutional conduct by the New Orleans Police Department, the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division and the City of New Orleans filed a consent decree that included expanded use of vehicle cameras, with significant policy and accountability requirements. Through the court-appointed Independent Monitor, the Department of Justice will receive additional information on the impact of expanded camera use.
In addition, the Department of Justice will continue to support grant programs, such as the Community Oriented Policing Services' Community Policing Development Program and the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, and encourage investments in video equipment by law enforcement agencies.
And while we understand that there are a number of benefits to having law enforcement officers use cameras, there continue to be many unanswered questions, including:
- What is the most effective type of camera (vehicle, body, weapon) -- and if body, where is it best placed (lapel, ear, belt)?
- What are the privacy implications of having officers record interactions with the public?
- When should cameras be turned on?
- Does every officer on a force need a camera?
- How long should video data be maintained and who should have access to it?
- What is the impact on community relationships?
The issue of cost also cannot be ignored.
The Department will continue to support the use of video technology, review and evaluate law enforcement agencies that use it, and engage in discussions to answer the questions above to address the manner in which this technology impacts policing, communities, and public safety.
We also know that cameras alone will not solve the problem where there is mistrust between police and communities. As a nation, we must continue to address this lack of trust. Most Americans are law abiding and most law enforcement officers work hard day in and day out to protect and serve their communities. When there is trust between community and law enforcement agency, crimes are more easily solved. And when community members and officers know that they will be treated with fairness and respect, public safety is enhanced.
Every day, the Department of Justice's COPS Office, Community Relations Service (CRS) and Office of Justice Programs (OJP) work with law enforcement and community leaders to help increase mutual trust and respect. This work enhances community-policing initiatives, strengthens departmental problem-solving and mediation skills, and expands departmental cultural awareness of diverse communities. In addition, the Civil Rights Division's investigations and litigation regarding law enforcement agencies seek remedies to promote trust and confidence between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
As Ferguson continues to heal as a community, this Administration will continue to work to ensure that our justice system, across the country, is truly just. We'll continue to work to support the use of video technology, review and evaluate law enforcement agencies that use it, and continue to engage in discussions about how this technology impacts policing, communities, and public safety.
In the meantime, thank you for speaking out. We appreciate your interest and recommendation on this very important issue, and we welcome additional ideas you may have on this topic.
Roy L. Austin, Jr. is the Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity in the Domestic Policy Council