The White House today announced a pledge of $263 million in new federal funding to add police body cameras and additional training. Of the total amount, $75 million is specifically for the addition of 50,000 body cameras for law enforcement officers across the US, while the balance will serve to instruct police on the responsible use of paramilitary equipment such as assault rifles and personnel carriers, as well as to fund outreach programs to build relationships between local departments and their communities.
The announcement comes in the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri protests following the Grand Jury ruling not to indict a police officer who shot unarmed Ferguson resident Michael Brown, as well as a more recent shared video of the wrongful shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot by Cleveland Police after a toy gun was mistaken for a real gun.
The idea behind the cameras is to provide a point of view reference and record of police activities while on the street, though time will tell if the effort is enough. With over 750,000 active police officers employed across America, 50,000 cameras are best described as “a good start”.
The Verge also reports that certain states such as Washington have public records laws which will require the release of all police records not being used in an active investigation. As such, the workload generated by hundreds of hours of daily footage being generated, as well as the privacy issues involved in said footage, could make body cameras a logistical disaster in such states.
Still, the effort can only help the current situation, which is relatively inconsistent across the country. For those forces looking to add body cameras to their kit roll-out, the funding, which would need to be matched by state and local police, will certainly go a long way to help.