Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), a former federal prosecutor who recently urged the Department of Justice to help fund local police departments’ purchase of small body-worn cameras in order to increase transparency, decrease tensions between police and community members, and create a record of events, released the following statement:
“Last night, following the decision of a grand jury not to indict the policeman who shot and killed Michael Brown, several buildings were set ablaze and violence again plagued the streets of Ferguson. Brown’s death and this new spate of violence has exposed anew the deep mistrust between many Americans, particularly those of color, and law enforcement.
“I join the family of Michael Brown, the Attorney General, and the President in calling for an end to the violence, and for calm and restraint, both by protestors and police. As the President said late last night, we are a nation of laws and the grand jury’s decision — whether we agree with it or disagree — was theirs to make.
“We cannot undo the past — we cannot bring Michael back, but we can create a better future for our children and make our streets safer for citizens and police alike. That will not be an easy task, but a good start would be committing to further diversify our police forces so they are more representative of the communities they police, and equipping officers with body cameras — cameras that may have put to rest the fevered speculation that has characterized this case, or better yet, avoided the deadly altercation altogether.
Schiff, along with other Members of Congress, recently sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging the Department of Justice to help fund local police departments’ purchase of small body-worn cameras.
From the letter:
“Police departments around the country have begun adopting small body-worn cameras for police officers on patrol. These cameras provide a visual and audio record of interactions with the public, so that in the event of a confrontation or police-involved shooting, such as the one that occurred in Ferguson, there is an inalterable record of the events. There are also indications that the presence of body cameras has a civilizing effect on both police officers and the public, resulting in lower incidences of excessive force complaints and deescalating tense situations before they become violent. Perhaps most importantly, cameras can instill greater trust in police departments on the part of the public they are sworn to protect. In communities with frayed police-community relations, cameras demonstrate a commitment on the part of the local police department to transparency and accountability, while protecting officers from false or frivolous complaints. For all these reasons, the adoption of body cameras has been well received in the jurisdictions that have begun to use them, both by the public and the officers wearing the cameras.”