Wearable camera petition tops 100K signatures on WH site

A petition posted on the White House website in the wake of the shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., has received enough signatures to warrant an official response.

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Johnlee Coe Jr., who created the petition, said there would be no question about what happened the night Michael Brown was killed if the officer who shot him had been wearing a video camera.

Coe's solution? A "Michael Brown Law."

"The law shall be made in an effort to not only detour police misconduct (i.e. brutality, profiling, abuse of power), but to ensure that all police are following procedure, and to remove all question, from normally questionable police encounters," the petition, which has collected more than 100,000 signatures, reads.

Coe said he created the petition after discovering that the police department in his Georgia county requires only dashboard cameras, while other departments require wearable ones.

Only a quarter of police agencies use body-worn cameras, according to a survey of 254 police agencies by Police Executive Research Forum last year.

In Rialto, Calif., the number of complaints filed against police fell 88 percent, along with a drop of use-of-force incidents by nearly 60 percent, within a year of wearable cameras being used.

"When you put a camera on a police officer, they tend to behave a little better, follow the rules a little better," Rialto Police Chief William A. Farrar later told The New York Times.

"I felt like the only way to solve all of that debate was requiring all law enforcement — state, county and local — to have cameras," Coe said of his petition.

Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, is a member of the Ferguson Police Department, which reportedly purchased two wearable body cameras this past spring. So far, police have not released any footage of the scene in the moments following the shooting.

The department, which has 18 patrol cars, according to CNN, also bought two dashboard cameras but did not install them because it lacked funding, Police Chief Thomas Jackson said.

Jackson said officials plan to install both cameras soon, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The American Civil Liberties Union published a white paper last year detailing privacy concerns associated with body cams, but noted that body cams can be a "win-win" under the right framework because of "their potential to serve as a check against the abuse of power by police officers."

Brown's death has left many in Ferguson pushing for answers, with protests and repeated clashes between heavily armed police and demonstrators roiling the St. Louis suburb for more than a week.

Coe, who is an African-American, said his petition is not about race.

"We're 60 years past Jim Crow laws and we're still having these black and white issues," he said, adding, "We should focus on the human race — at the end of the day that's who we are first."