Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II discussed on Tuesday securing millions of dollars for body cameras for police agencies nationwide.
Rep. Cleaver said in a news release that the $1.1 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act, more commonly referred to as the omnibus spending bill, includes $22.5 million for the cameras.
“Body cameras will serve to increase transparency. Both the police and the public benefit when the police have the best tools and training to fulfill their mission,” Rep. Cleaver said in a news release. “Body cameras are one part of a much broader solution in police reform.”
Law enforcement agencies can apply for grant money for body cameras. The Department of Justice will govern who will or will not receive grant money.
“We probably need somewhere in the neighborhood of $222 million, but this $22 million will probably allow 25-30 cities to get the cameras,” Rep. Cleaver said.
Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp said a lot of things still need to be worked out, but the overall concept of body cameras is good.
“If somebody breaks into your house, and you’re the victim of a crime and my deputy’s got a body camera on and it’s supposed to stay on all the time. Now I’m walking through your house, or that deputy is walking through your house, and I’m videotaping everything in your house,” Sharp said. “Do you want that to be released to the public?”
Sharp said law enforcement, the legislature and the federal government must work together to draw certain lines when it comes to the cameras.
Major Eric Winebrenner of the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department said patrol officers have discussed using body cameras with him.
“What they have told me is most want the cameras because it takes out the question of what they have done,” Winebrenner said.
The inclusion of the funding comes after the House passed H. Res. 295 in June. Rep. Cleaver was an original cosponsor of it.
The news release states:
“H. Res. 295 expresses the sense of Congress in support of local law enforcement agencies and their continued work to serve our communities, specifically supporting their use of body cameras.”
The Jackson County Sheriff's Office is testing body cameras. The Kansas City, Mo., Police Department does not have body cameras. Kansas City police said the cameras are like an iPhone - everyone runs out and gets the newest version, and they discover all of the bugs. They said Chief Forte wants to wait until the bugs are worked out.
Brian Abel can be reached at email@example.com.