Following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Mo., calls are growing for police departments across the country to use body cameras.
On Monday, President Barack Obama proposed a new program to help pay for 50,000 police body cameras nationwide.
This week more than 30 police officers from the 22nd District in North Philadelphia began wearing body cameras as part of a six-month pilot program. The end goals is to roll out body-cameras department wide, said a police spokesman.
In Delaware, leaders are also considering whether to equip state troopers with body cameras.
In New Hampshire, lawmakers will vote next week on whether to require state police to wear body cameras.
New Hampshire lawmakers can’t require local police departments to mandate cameras without providing the money for them, but several local departments already equip their officers with them.
New Hampshire Republican Rep. Kyle Tasker, the bill’s prime sponsor, first introduced the bill last year and lawmakers chose to further study and revise it for the upcoming session, which starts in January.
Although the lawmaker introduced the bill before the August shooting in Ferguson, he said the conflicting stories over what happened when Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, shot Michael Brown, who is Black, further demonstrate the need for the cameras. Wilson was not wearing a body camera, and grand jurors last month chose not to indict him. The shooting and grand jury decision sparked nationwide protests.
Requiring police to wear body cameras is not a panacea to the longstanding problem between police and young African-Americans and Latino males.
Other actions will also need to be taken including more effective prosecution of police officers who use excessive force and changing the culture of many police departments across the country to strengthen the relationship between police and civilians.
Some large police departments will argue that the body cameras will be too costly. The cameras can typically cost anywhere from $200 to $900 each.
But using body cameras can help police departments save money by preventing frivolous and costly lawsuits.
The body cameras could help prevent people from assuming the police are abusing their powers or being let off easy.
Body wearable cameras by police can help restore trust between police and civilians.