A House Resolution that passed overwhelmingly today by a margin of 421 yeas to 6 nays, cites a study that proves law enforcement officers should wear cameras. Advocates say that police-body worn cameras cut down on the use of force by officers and cut the level of complaints against officers.
Rep. Al Green (D-TX) sponsored the resolution along with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep Ted Poe (R-TX), Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo), and Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS).
Cleaver told TheDC, “[This resolution tells] many young minority students who are now out of school and out of work. Look we’re listening, we’re doing something that we think will curtail the number of problems that we have between police and community. Nobody can say now that the highest legislative body in the world remains silent in the summer of 2015 when chaos was occurring all around the country.”
The resolution cites studies by the University of Cambridge School of Criminology and studies in Rialto, California in 2013 that found the result of a cop cam lowered the instances of an officer using force by 59% and also noted that the amount of complaints levied by the public decreased by 87%.
When asked why it has taken more than two years to pass a resolution or law regarding cop worn cameras, Cleaver responded, “I don’t know. I made the call to Speaker Boehner 2 weeks ago, to my knowledge Al Green and I are the first Democrats to sit down and talk about body cameras to him.”
The congressman went on to say, “Maybe the only thing lacking was the initiative on someone’s part to get things rolling and we were able to do it. Frankly people were surprised after the vote everybody was saying, ‘oh my goodness!’.”
Some police departments have already adopted officer worn cameras which are seen as ensuring that police procedure is more crystallized and that erroneous complaints have no basis.
H Res. 295 is classified as a simple resolution meaning that it describes the position of the House of Representatives rather than mandate action.
This resolution stands as an answer to the highly publicized police brutality cases, where opaque facts are overshadowed by emotions. If an incident of alleged police brutality could be seen entirely from an officer’s perspective on tape, there would be little room for media-fanfare and hotly contested debates.
In a press release from Rep. Al Green’s office, Cleaver said, “Together with other members, we were able to secure $25 million dollars’ worth of funding. This victory, while impressive, highlights the pressing need for substantive legislation on this issue.”
Both Cleaver and Green have introduced the Camera Authorization and Maintenance-Transparency in Policing Act (CAM-TIP) of 2015. It is aimed at gaining collaboration between the federal government and local police departments for the purpose of transparency in law enforcement. The CAM-TIP Act of 2015 would create a grant program to fund cameras for officers to wear.