One of Democratic St. Louis Senator Jamilah Nasheed’s priorities for the 2016 session is a bill that would require St. Louis police to wear body cameras. Another is a proposal on use of deadly force by police officers.
“When we first filed legislation dealing with body cameras and deadly force, it was immediately after the death of Michael Brown, Jr.,” said Nasheed. “So, a lot of my colleagues were hands off because they didn’t want to be seen as anti-police. They didn’t want to touch any of those bills. I think now, as we see things calm down, I think we can open that door to begin to have the discussion.”
She says the body cameras would help with accountability for police and citizens.
“The climate that we’re in right now with law enforcement and the community is appalling,” said Nasheed. “The respect level is not there. The trust level is not there.”
She said the cost of the cameras is unknown but hopes funding would be a public-private partnership.
“I think that the cost is little compared to the cost of the complaints and lawsuits that they are faced with every year,” said Nasheed.
Nasheed said crime and lawsuits against police have reduced in cities like Pittsburgh and San Diego from police using body cameras.
Her bill says the identity and privacy of citizens would have to be protected in the video.
Meanwhile, Nasheed wants Missouri’s law on use of deadly force by police officers to be aligned with the Supreme court ruling of Tennessee vs. Garner decision. That ruling makes it tougher for a law enforcement officer to be cleared of wrongdoing from shooting a fleeing suspect who is unarmed.
“I know that after the unrest in Ferguson, there was a lot of talk about the deadly force law not being in alignment with Tennessee vs. Garner,” said Nasheed.
Her deadly force legislation says officers would be justified in using deadly force when a suspect poses significant harm or death to an officer or others.