The federal government has approved a program that will help pay for police body cameras for local law enforcement agencies nationwide.
The Justice Department announced a new $20-million program to fund the use of police body cameras for local law enforcement agencies.
State Senator Jamilah Nasheed has made a push in the Senate to mandate the use of body cameras by police in Missouri. Nasheed said throughout the country, community and law enforcement are divided.
“The federal government sees the light and we are still blind by the light as a state,” said Nasheed. “Until we’re able to look at those body cameras, not as a negative, but as a positive in terms of bridging the gap between community and law enforcement, only then will we see true progress.”
State Representative and Chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus Brandon Ellington has filed bills in the House that would mandate the use of body cameras in Missouri, but many lawmakers were opposed to Ellington’s proposed ways to pay for them.
“We keep creating excuses as to why we cannot fund this, when we know we can if we are a little innovative,” said Ellington. “I’m very appreciative that the federal government sees it’s a necessity to make money available for equipment that not only protects law enforcement, but protects citizens.”
Ellington hopes the new federal program will help diminish opposition, but said there are still key lawmakers who do not want to move this type of legislation forward.
“Now we can point at a funding mechanism that’s already out there, but I’m afraid that we’re not going to have movement on it until the leadership in the majority party feels it’s a necessity to protect citizens that are most vulnerable to police brutality and to protect police because it definitely protects the police against malicious accusations,” said Ellington.
Nasheed also hopes the new federal program will propel body camera legislation in Missouri.
“It is a step in the right direction and I am elated that the Justice Department has stepped to the plate,” said Nasheed. “That’s something we need to do here on the state level and I’m going to continue to fight for body cameras.”
The Justice Department’s program includes 17-million dollars in grants for police departments to buy cameras and 3-million for training, technical assistance, and evaluation.