Congressman Al Green (D-TX) and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) recently announced that the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, more commonly referred to as the omnibus spending bill, includes $22.5 million for police body cameras.
This inclusion of funding comes on the heels of House Resolution 295, passed by the House in June 2015, which Congressman Green sponsored and Congressman Cleaver was an original co-sponsor. The Resolution is in support of local law enforcement agencies and their continued work to serve our communities, specifically supporting their use of body-worn cameras. These body cameras serve to promote transparency to protect both citizens and officers.
Congressman Green, a veteran civil rights activist, has made accountability and transparency in police-community interactions top priorities in the 114th Congress. As the original sponsor of House Resolution 295, he understands the importance of police body-worn cameras to guard against and expose false accusations.
“I am proud that the legislation that Congressman Cleaver and I filed to fund police body-worn cameras is having a positive impact,” said Congressman Green. “I thank Congressman Cleaver for his support and encouragement on the issue of police body-worn cameras. We have worked closely together on House Resolution 295, to support the use of police body-worn cameras, which passed the House in an overwhelming bipartisan majority vote of 421 to 6. Recent events have demonstrated to us that while there is more work to be done on the issue of transparency and accountability in law enforcement, police body-worn cameras are a positive development.”
Congressman Green also emphasizes that although the “eye of the camera” may not prevent questionable circumstances from occurring, it can provide additional empirical evidence of what occurred and over time act as an additional deterrence.
“I believe these funds are a significant step in the right direction, and that they will assist many of our local law enforcement agencies and allow communities to better evaluate alleged police misconduct,” said Congressman Green. “I am enthused and welcome the inclusion of additional funding for body-worn cameras in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016. I will continue my work to ensure our peace officers have all the tools necessary to build police-community relations, improve transparency, and maintain legitimacy.”
Congressman Cleaver has also made policing reform a core goal in the 114th Congress, and he is pleased that bipartisan leaders have realized the importance of allowing police officers to utilize body cameras as they work to keep our communities safe and promote accountability.
“I want to thank Congressman Green for his leadership on this effort,” said Congressman Cleaver. “From the death of Michael Brown last year in Ferguson, to the tragic murder of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, and the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore this spring, now more than ever, the public has called for reform and accountability. Body cameras will serve to increase transparency. Both the police and the public benefit when the police have the best tools and training to fulfill their mission. Body cameras are one part of a much broader solution in police reform.”
In January 2015, Congressman Cleaver wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to promote funding for body cameras as a result of the continual unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and because of the alleged police misconduct happening across the country.