Obama to move on police body cameras after Ferguson unrest

AFP , Monday 1 Dec 2014

File Photo: President Barack Obama speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at the White House on 23 August 2012 (Photo: AP)

President Barack Obama will seek to release funds aimed at equipping more US police officers with body cameras following the racially charged fatal shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, the White House said Monday.

Calls for police officers to wear micro-cameras fitted to uniforms have mounted since the teen, Michael Brown, was shot dead in the Missouri town in August.

The decision not to charge the white police officer responsible for the shooting triggered riots and nationwide protests last week while reigniting the debate over how minorities are treated by law enforcement.

Obama is proposing a three-year, $263 million investment package which will increase the use of body-worn cameras and expand training for law enforcement agencies.

As part of the initiative, a partnership program would provide a 50 percent match to states and localities who purchase body-worn cameras.

The goal of the investment is to have 50,000 more body cameras in use within three years, the White House said in a statement.

Body cameras are already worn by police officers in some US cities, such as Laurel, Maryland. Their use is being trialled in New York and Washington. In the Washington program, recordings not used for investigations are destroyed within 90 days.

Obama was due to meet civil rights activists later Monday to discuss the issue of mistrust between law enforcement and the communities they are responsible for policing.

He was also due to meet local elected officials, religious leaders and law enforcement representatives to discuss ways of building trust between local communities and police.

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