In light Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo., a Mississippi legislator has followed suit with President Barack Obama’s proposal to require that police officers wear body cameras while on duty.
Today, state Rep. Chuck Espy, D-Clarksdale, said he would introduce the legislation in the 2015 session. “Given recent national events over the past year, including Ferguson, Mo., and New York, the public has increasingly lost confidence in our policing and judicial systems,” Espy said as stated in a press release.
“The level of trust between local police and the communities they protect will determine the strength of that relationship.”
Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson after Wilson stopped him while walking in the street. On Nov. 24, a grand jury declined to indict Wilson on any charges.
While Brown’s story is not an isolated incident, the grief in the Ferguson community sparked a national movement. Brown’s parents spoke out and asked for police departments across the country to adopt body camera policies.
Digital video recordings, advocates for the requirement say, can provide proof of events that might have otherwise been muddied by conflicting testimony and reports, like in Brown’s case. The cameras can also create a record of time and dates which “helps authenticate incidents and log an automatic evidence file,” the statement reads.
According to a New York Times story, the Rialto Police Department in California saw an 88 percent decrease in complaints against officers and a 60 percent decrease in incidents in which officers used force when they adopted body camera policies.
Espy said he believes he can gather bipartisan support for the initiative. Political pundits have questioned how helpful video footage will be in determining how justified officers’ actions are, considering a grand jury’s decision Wednesday not to indict New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo, who put Eric Garner in the chokehold that ended Garner’s life. That incident was caught entirely on video. Garner was unarmed and non-violent.