White House favors cops wearing cameras

The White House on Monday signaled its support for requiring law enforcement to wear body-mounted cameras after the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager last month in Ferguson, Missouri led to mass protests.

Responding to a petition on the White House website sparked by the incident in Ferguson, the Obama administration said there were “numerous benefits” to making the cameras available to police.

{mosads}Roy Austin, a White House adviser on Justice and Urban Affairs issues, said a recent Justice Department report showed body-worn technology provided useful evidence of interactions with police, as well as evidence both officers and civilians acted “in a more positive manner.” The cameras also proved useful for law enforcement training. 

“We support the use of cameras and video technology by law enforcement officers, and the Department of Justice continues to research best practices for implementation,” Austin said.

Still, the White House aide cautioned “that cameras alone will not solve the problem where there is mistrust between police and communities.”

“As a nation, we must continue to address this lack of trust,” Austin said. “Most Americans are law-abiding and most law enforcement officers work hard day in and day out to protect and serve their communities. When there is trust between community and law enforcement agency, crimes are more easily solved. And when community members and officers know that they will be treated with fairness and respect, public safety is enhanced.”

Earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Holder said he would conduct a federal civil rights investigation into allegations the Ferguson Police Department “engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal law.” Holder said the inquiry would extend beyond the shooting death of Michael Brown, which inspired the demonstrations in the St. Louis suburb.

The Obama administration has vowed to respond to all petitions on the White House website that garner more than 100,000 signatures within the first 30 days. The petition demanding the use of police cameras saw nearly 155,000 signatures before the administration posted its response.

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