Two House members say they will ask the legislature to consider making body cameras mandatory for every law enforcement officer in the state.
Calls for law enforcement to utilize body cameras have increased since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, August 9, by a Ferguson Police officer. Proponents say a body camera would have caught what happened in that incident that so far, has been the subject of intense debate, tension, and unrest.
Kansas City representative Brandon Ellington filed a body camera mandate bill in the legislative session that ended in May. He admits the problem with that bill was that it didn’t offer a way to pay for local agencies to buy the cameras.
“It would be considered an unfunded mandate because I’m requiring local municipalities to pay for it,” says Ellington, who adds the funding question was the only reason for opposition to the bill that he heard. “I’m thinking about trying to carve out a mechanism from the state.”
Berkeley representative Courtney Curtis revealed on Wednesday he also plans to file a bill and he has some ideas on how to offer funding.
“One way is directly through the fines and fees that are assessed with the various violations that the police administer through ticketing and what-not,” says Curtis. “Outside of that we do need, as a state, to ensure the public safety of our residents as well so there will be a component for support from the state as well.”
Both lawmakers say having body cameras is in the best interest not only of citizens, but of police.
Ellington says that is a sentiment he has heard from law enforcement organization representatives, and from former law enforcement officers that are now lawmakers.
“Police officers [would] no longer have to worry about fictitious or vindictive claims being filed against them when they haven’t done anything, and the citizens [would] have protection too, because now it’s not my word against the officer’s word, it’s the video and the audio of what happened,” says Ellington.
Incoming House Speaker John Diehl tells Missourinet he’s not convinced that the state should mandate how local governments police, but he doesn’t say that such legislation won’t be considered.