Hillary Clinton: Body Cameras Should Be Worn by All Police Departments

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Speaking at the David N. Dinkins Leadership & Public Policy Forum, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for body cameras to become "the norm", saying that all police departments in America should have access to the devices.

"We should make sure every police department in the country has body cameras to record interactions between officers on patrol and suspects," said Clinton. "That will improve transparency and accountability, it will help protect good people on both sides of the lens. For every tragedy caught on tape, there surely have been many more that remained invisible. Not every problem can be or will be prevented with cameras, but this is a commonsense step we should take."

The speech also hit on issues of race, poverty, and injustice, with Clinton making her first public comments about the death of Freddie Gray and the subsuquents protests and riots in Baltimore.

"There is something wrong when trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve breaks down as far as it has in many of our communities. We have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance. And these recent tragedies should galvanize us to come together as a nation to find our balance again," she said.

"We should begin by heeding the pleas of Freddie Gray’s family for peace and unity, echoing the families of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and others in the past years. Those who are instigating further violence in Baltimore are disrespecting the Gray family and the entire community. They are compounding the tragedy of Freddie Gray’s death and setting back the cause of justice. So the violence has to stop. But more broadly, let’s remember that everyone in every community benefits when there is respect for the law and when everyone in every community is respected by the law. That is what we have to work towards in Baltimore and across our country."

Clinton praised President's Obama's task force on policing, calling it a "good place to start".

"The President has provided the idea of matching funds to state and local governments investing in body cameras. We should go even further and make this the norm everywhere," she said.

In the past, some Senators have proposed tying federal funding to compliance in a body camera initiative.

A handful of police forces around the country have already begun equipping cops with cameras.

In one of the first divisions to try it, Rialto, California. the presence of body cameras seemed to produce drastic results. Incidents of ‘use of force’ by police dropped 60 percent, and the number of complaints against officers fell 88 percent.

But body cameras are no silver bullet to a complex issues. And there are issues beyond their efficacy in preventing civilian/police conflict – specifically privacy.

Following the events in Ferguson, Missouri, the White House called for increased use of body cameras by police. Part of the White House's proposal to "Strengthen Community Policing" is a Body Worn Camera Partnership Program, which gives a 50% match in funding to state and local forces the purchase body cameras. The White House said it could help purchase 50,000 body worn cameras over the next three years.

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf

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