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senate Bill S. 877

Are Federal Grants Needed to Help Police Departments Buy Body Cameras for Their Officers?

Argument in favor

Body cameras will help with evidence collection in addition to reducing the use of excessive force. It’s a positive for both the general public and police officers.

Alis's Opinion
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07/17/2016
Since those of us in the dominant culture (like me) only really understood the extent of the abuse of minority communities by the police with the advent of cell phone videos & social media, it is essential that all police wear cameras. This is NOT an anti-police stance. There are good & bad people in all professions. I choose to believe that most police departments & individual officers mean to protect & serve but some clearly prey on the vulnerable. Being accountable protects all of us--including the police--from abuse of power & use of deadly force.
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MrGio12's Opinion
···
07/07/2016
As public officers, police do not have any reason for privacy while on duty. Also, data should never be destroyed once it is gathered. Technology needs to help keep the people that are governed safe against the minority of bad men in power
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Brian's Opinion
···
07/07/2016
This a brilliant idea. This will hold everybody accountable. Even if the body camera dislodged in a struggle there are other officers body cameras and there's audio. This is common sense
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Argument opposed

Body cameras threaten the privacy of citizens and police officers -- especially because there are no standard regulations (at the local or federal level) for how the camera data is stored, used, or destroyed.

Loraki's Opinion
···
07/15/2016
I totally agree with Countable member "Operaman" on this issue! No federal grants and DEFINITELY no federalization of our police. At least 30 police departments have sold out to Obama for federal money. That means they have to kowtow to the POTUS. That is the way (or at least one way) to lose your sovereignty! States, local governments, and individuals should guard their sovereignty assiduously! The Founding Fathers fought a bloody war to gain it. Why would any American want to support a feudal system or a Communist system?! Don't Americans value FREEDOM anymore? I once said that federal grants come with strings attached; I was wrong. FEDERAL GRANTS COME WITH CHAINS AND SHACKLES ATTACHED! FUND YOUR OWN POLICE OFFICERS!
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operaman's Opinion
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07/11/2016
No Federal Grants. Policing is local. Obama's looking for a Federal Police Force answering to DHS.
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GrumpyMSgt's Opinion
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07/08/2016
This should be funded by the local agency not the Feds.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedMarch 26th, 2015

What is Senate Bill S. 877?

This bill would establish a grant program to provide state and local law enforcement agencies with funding to purchase body cameras that would be worn by on-duty police officers. The hope is that body cameras would improve evidence collection, deter excessive force, and improve both accountability and transparency into the use of force by police officers.

These programs would operate on the assumption that officers wearing body cameras should minimize recording of data that’s unrelated to law enforcement activities. Officers would also be held accountable for explaining when they don’t record activities and situations that should’ve been recorded. Officers would also have to get consent from witnesses and crime victims before recording. Members of the public would be able to file complaints related to the improper use of body cameras.

At the end of the day, these body camera programs would be operating to collect more data from state and local law enforcement agencies on:

  • Incidents when officers use force -- broken down by race, ethnicity, gender, and age of the person who was the target of force.

  • The number of complaints filed against law enforcement officers, and the nature of those complaints.

  • How camera footage is used for evidence collection when investigating crimes.

Impact

The general public, law enforcement officers; law enforcement agencies at the state and local level; Office of Justice Programs; body camera manufacturers, the Assistant Attorney General, the DOJ.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 877

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Grants awarded through this program would last for two years, with 50 percent of the grant being disbursed when it was awarded. The remaining 50 percent would be disbursed after the law enforcement agency has established policies and procedures for using body-worn cameras, storing and destroying the data it gathers, the release of stored data, and made these policies and procedures public.

Funding for this program would be capped at $10 million for the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years, and the federal share of any body camera program that is funded with these grants would not exceed 75 percent of the program’s total cost.

The system that stores the data from the body cameras would log all viewing, modification, or deletion of stored data in order to prevent unauthorized access or disclosure of stored data. Law enforcement officers would be prohibited from accessing the system without authorization.

Data gathered through body cameras obtained through this program would only be used in gathering evidence related to a crime, misconduct investigations, and for limited training purposes. The transfer of data to another law enforcement or intelligence agency would be prohibited, except for:

  • Criminal investigations where there is reasonable suspicion that the requested data contains evidence related to that investigation.

  • Civil rights claims investigating any right, privilege, or immunity that is protected by the Constitution or laws of the U.S.

Applications would be made to the Assistant Attorney General by the chief executive of a state, local government, or Indian tribe. Within 90 days of this bill’s enactment the Assistant Attorney General would release the requirements of the grant application process.

Within two years of grants being disbursed, the Assistant Attorney General would conduct a study on the impact of body cameras on the use of force by police officers, its effect on public safety, storage issues, and best practices for the use of body cameras. This study would be sent to Congress within 180 days of its completion.


Of Note: A 2013 survey found that about a quarter of the 254 U.S. police departments that responded use body cameras, though it is unknown how many total law enforcement agencies are using body cameras. It is currently up to local law enforcement agencies to determine how to handle the data they collect -- but the DOJ has published a guidebook of “Recommendations and Lessons Learned."

The issue of police-worn body cameras became a point of national discussion after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. As USA Today points out:
“Other recent racially charged incidents, including the police shooting death of Walter Scott in North Charleston, SC, and the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered severe spinal cord injuries while in Baltimore Police custody, have kept the issue in the national spotlight.”

While proponents argue that police cameras may have deterred or at least provided clarity in the aftermath of those incidents, detractors aren’t so sure -- noting that interpretations of video and photo evidence are often as varied as the interpretations of police actions themselves.

A similar version of this bill was introduced in December 2014, but it failed to progress out of committee before the 113th Congress concluded.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user North Charleston)

AKA

Police CAMERA Act

Official Title

A bill to establish a pilot grant program to assist State and local law enforcement agencies in purchasing body-worn cameras for law enforcement officers.

    Since those of us in the dominant culture (like me) only really understood the extent of the abuse of minority communities by the police with the advent of cell phone videos & social media, it is essential that all police wear cameras. This is NOT an anti-police stance. There are good & bad people in all professions. I choose to believe that most police departments & individual officers mean to protect & serve but some clearly prey on the vulnerable. Being accountable protects all of us--including the police--from abuse of power & use of deadly force.
    Like (9)
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    I totally agree with Countable member "Operaman" on this issue! No federal grants and DEFINITELY no federalization of our police. At least 30 police departments have sold out to Obama for federal money. That means they have to kowtow to the POTUS. That is the way (or at least one way) to lose your sovereignty! States, local governments, and individuals should guard their sovereignty assiduously! The Founding Fathers fought a bloody war to gain it. Why would any American want to support a feudal system or a Communist system?! Don't Americans value FREEDOM anymore? I once said that federal grants come with strings attached; I was wrong. FEDERAL GRANTS COME WITH CHAINS AND SHACKLES ATTACHED! FUND YOUR OWN POLICE OFFICERS!
    Like (19)
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    No Federal Grants. Policing is local. Obama's looking for a Federal Police Force answering to DHS.
    Like (11)
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    This should be funded by the local agency not the Feds.
    Like (6)
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    Body cameras that won't fall off.
    Like (5)
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    The municipality should pay for their own equipment and services.
    Like (3)
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    As public officers, police do not have any reason for privacy while on duty. Also, data should never be destroyed once it is gathered. Technology needs to help keep the people that are governed safe against the minority of bad men in power
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    This a brilliant idea. This will hold everybody accountable. Even if the body camera dislodged in a struggle there are other officers body cameras and there's audio. This is common sense
    Like (3)
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    When the federal government "establishes a grant program", it means our politicians are sticking their grubby hands in our pockets to take more of the money we earned through our labor. If local governments need body cameras, then they should divert it from their planned purchases of military surplus.
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    Federal money should not go into this. I do agree with the regulations on body camera usage, as they protect the privacy of citizens. However, these cameras don't need to go out en masse. If areas with police accountability programs want this implemented and want to pay for it, then go ahead.
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    Local funding. If that's what the citizens want they can fund themselves.
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    Why would you not want the American public to see what our law enforcement go through day to day! I think the public would be shocked at what they really see and how the public behavior! In stead of giving millions to the families who children that were shot will proof they didn't deserve a dime!
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    This is not a federal issue, the feds have tried to nationalize law enforcement under this POTUS then any other time, we must resist this push.
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    No - the cities need to manage their own expenses.
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    Part of the problem is that this money may go to sanctuary cities. Also the Feds need to stay out of local and state police. This probably comes with regulations. A no no.
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    The body cameras are for the people who do not trust our police officers. The distrust comes from brainwashing by their parents and the liberal news media. These same people want us to trust them but they have to learn that trust is a two way street. We are suppose to trust their opinions and version of what has happened but they don't have to trust or respect anyone else. Are there a few bad cops? Of course. Are there bad doctors, lawyers, brick layers, etc...? Of course.
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    If the fed is broke how can it fund anything?
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    Local police departments can buy their own cameras. Anytime the federal government is involved something will be screwed up.
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    State's need to fund themselves
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    Should be funded locally not by feds
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