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Schatz Reintroduces Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Use of Police Body Cameras

October 4, 2017, 11:09 AM HST (Updated October 4, 2017, 11:10 AM) · 0 Comments
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Sen. Brian Schatz. Courtesy photo.

US Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and US Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) introduced the Police Creating Accountability by Making Effective Recording Available (Police CAMERA) Act of 2017.

The legislation would create a pilot grant program to assist state and local law enforcement agencies to develop safe and effective body-worn camera programs that also protect civilians’ privacy rights.

“We can’t restore trust between our communities and law enforcement without transparency and accountability,” said Senator Schatz. “Body cameras alone won’t repair that relationship, but they have proven to be effective and can do a great deal to keep both police officers and community members safe and accountable.”

The pilot grant program would use existing funding to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies with the purchasing or leasing of body-worn cameras. It would also authorize an impact-study after two years. The study would assess the impact body-worn cameras have on reducing the use of excessive force by police, its effects on officer safety and public safety, and procedures to protect the privacy of individuals who are recorded.

“The resulting benefits of the body-worn cameras after almost two years of usage have greatly exceeded my expectations,” said Darryl D. Perry, Chief of Police of the Kauaʻi Police Department. “Not only have our officers embraced this technology wholeheartedly, but our community has commended KPD for being open and transparent.”

“The use of body cameras helps officers collect and preserve evidence to solve crimes, while also decreasing the number of complaints against police,” said Senator Paul. “The Police CAMERA Act will help state and local police departments access this new tool, while ensuring that the privacy rights of every civilian are respected.”

Original cosponsors of the bill include US Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

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