The Obama administration plans to spend $263 million for police body cameras and training in the wake of the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. The program would offer a total of $75 million over three years to match state funding for the cameras by 50 percent, helping to pay for more than 50,000 of the devices.
The president says the funding would to help improve relations between police departments and minority communities, saying there is a “simmering distrust” between the two groups that extends well beyond the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
Shortly after Michael Brown was shot and killed, New Orleans Police Officer Lisa Lewis got into a fight with a man during a traffic stop. During the fight, she shot Armand Bennet in the forehead.
According to Lewis’ attorney, she was going off-shift when she pulled Bennet over and had already turned her body camera. Bennet survived, only to be booked on five outstanding warrants including possession of marijuana, illegal possession of a weapon, resisting an officer, resisting an officer and criminal damage to property.
It was during a July 17 confrontation that Eric Garner died following what was called a ‘chokehold,’ performed by Daniel Pantaleo, one of the arresting New York Police officers attempting to arrest Garner. The entire event was video taped from start to finish and still a grand jury chose not to indict the Pantaleo.
On April 21 cops in Albuquerque shot and killed Mary Hawkes, who was suspected of auto theft. The officer who shot and killed Hawkes did not have his lapel camera turned on. He insists he turned it on ahead of the encounter but it was off and the manufacturer said they couldn’t decide if the officer was being truthful.
That officer, Jeremy Dear, has since been fired.
In 2013, a Chicago police officer wasn’t even charged for fatally shooting an unarmed man, despite video footage showing the officer standing over the victim’s body. Earlier this year, a jury acquitted two former police officers caught on tape beating a schizophrenic homeless man to death in 2012.
Ever since the beating of Rodney King was caught on tape in 1991, police have been aware that their actions may be recorded and used against them – and still we see rioting in the streets. And I don’t even want to get going on the possible abuse of civil liberties these body cameras can lead too.
So as you can see, such “21st century policing,” will not work.