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Body cameras for police

02.12.2014 09:56 -

How can we prevent more tragedies like what happened to Mike Brown? There’s one simple solution that would change a lot: making body cameras mandatory for police.

It would change how officers behave in the first place,1 and it would transform how officer-involved shootings are handled and prosecuted by creating a clear record of what happened. ( Video: President Obama Discusses Communities and Law Enforcement Working Together )

Mike's family understands this — in their statement after the grand jury verdict, Mike’s parents called for mandatory body cameras for police.2 It makes basic, common sense.

Click here to call on federal, state and local authorities across the country to mandate the use of body cameras for police officers. Once you do, please spread the word and ask your friends and family to do the same. It only takes a moment.

There is so much wrong with our criminal justice system when it comes to handling officer-involved shootings — and much of the needed reforms are hard to get in place. But body cameras are a straightforward, non-controversial solution that would go a long way towards making clear what’s happened in the context of an officer involved shooting.

In a study done in California last year, cameras resulted in a 60% reduction in use of force, and an 88% decline in the number of complaints against officers.3

If police departments can find the money to buy military grade equipment, they should certainly be able to find the money to pay for cameras to protect the public, as well as police officers. And this is truly a two-way street: cameras not only protect the victims of police shootings, they protect officers who are doing their job correctly.

In cases like Mike Brown’s, the dead can’t testify. It’s the officer’s word that sets the stage, and the other direct participant has no voice. Body cameras change that, giving the victim of a police killing a voice and creating an objective record of what happened. And with body cameras, the likelihood of deadly force being used inappropriately goes down in the first place, because the officer knows he or she is more likely to be held accountable.

Getting body cameras in use across the country is largely a matter of us demanding it. Once we get to a critical number of people joining the campaign in different states and municipalities, we will work with our members on the ground, as well as state-based and local organizations, to get laws passed. We will also use the pressure from members across the country to demand that federal funding for police departments comes with a requirement that body cameras and other accountability provisions be put in place. This is something that, together, we certainly have the power to accomplish.

We cannot bring back Mike Brown, and we have a tough road ahead to gain a sense of justice for his family, as well as accountability for Darren Wilson. This is one of many reforms that will be needed to transform how the police treat our communities — but it's one clear opportunity to prevent the next Mike Brown from being killed, and to prevent the next injustice along the lines of what we’ve seen in Ferguson.

Please join us and add your voice to the call for body cameras for police across the country, in the spirit of justice for Mike Brown and his family, and for the safety of our children.

Rashad, Matt, Arisha, Jamar, Lyla and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team

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