The Obama administration planned to require police body cameras before the Michael Brown shooting case in Ferguson, Mo., records reveal.
President Barack Obama unveiled a proposed $263 million spending bill Monday that would pay for 50,000 new out-facing police body cameras that supposedly monitor police officers’ conduct but also add new levels of government surveillance to our everyday lives. Obama made the announcement after a series of Ferguson-themed White House meetings, including with Al Sharpton.
Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice rushed out an extensive study called “Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program” in September, just one month after the Brown shooting in Ferguson. But the plan is nothing new.
“One of the latest technological advancements is the wearing of body cameras, which document the events of an incident, leaving no question as to appropriate safety measures and department protocol in handling a situation,” said a DOJ overview on “Officer Safety and Wellness” in 2011.
“Among the findings in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department report is the need for significant changes to the use of force review board, new tactical practices when multiple officers respond to a crime scene and the implementation of new technologies, such as body cameras,” DOJ stated after wrapping its investigation of the Las Vegas police force on Nov. 15, 2012.
A DOJ investigation created a new requirement for police body cameras in Newark, N.J. months ago, before the Brown shooting, according to an agreement in principle between the city and the United States federal government following DOJ’s investigation of Newark police procedures.
The agreement was signed on July 22, 2014 by Newark mayor Ras Baraka, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman and Holder’s acting assistant attorney general in the DOJ civil rights division Jocelyn Samuels.
“NPD will equip all marked patrol cars with video cameras, and require all officers, except certain officers engaged in only administrative or management duties, to wear body cameras and microphones with which to record all enforcement activity,” the agreement stated.
“NPD will develop a policy to designate cars and officers that will not be equipped with video cameras, or that will be equipped with concealed cameras, because the visibility of a camera might compromise undercover work or other appropriate and lawful clandestine police activity. NPD will develop a policy to designate the categories of officers who will not wear body cameras because they are only engaged in administrative or management duties.”
“It is our understanding that the City is willing to engage in use of body cameras to the extent that the technology is dependable and that its use is affordable,” DOJ stated in its similar Aug. 29 settlement with the city of Portland, Ore.