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Administration wants 50,000 police body cameras

Administration wants 50,000 police body cameras
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In response to the events in Ferguson and more recent events, the White House has announced that President Obama "has pledged $263 million of federal funding for police training and body cameras, set aside by executive order."

What does this mean, exactly?

Well, it means that 50,000 body cameras will be bought with a whopping $75 million allocated for the body cams. A large portion of the funds will be going towards the training of police in the use of "paramilitary equipment" like assault rifles, armored vehicles, and other situational equipment that has been put into the hands of local law enforcement through the Homeland Security preparedness program.

If you were aware of the goings-on in Ferguson from the beginning back in August when 18-year-old Mike Brown was shot by a white police officer, then you've seen the battle-like gear that local law enforcement wore during the initial riots. Many Internet users compared them to soldiers currently serving overseas, and noted that there was just as, if not more, heavy armor and weaponry on local officers than the fully-trained soldiers.

Some claim the use of this heavy armor only served to escalate the initial violence in Ferguson, which is why so much of the pledged funds are going to training on the proper deployment of such equipment by local law enforcement.

The rest of the allocated federal funds will be dedicated to police outreach programs "designed to build trust between local departments and the communities they serve."

Unfortunately, the 50,000 cameras will only provide enough for a fraction of the local law enforcement currently serving in the U.S., which is around 750,000. However, the federal government has also said that it will "soften the blow" for those departments that will purchase more body cameras for their departments by matching the funds spent on body cameras for the local police force.

There are also some states where the body cameras and state law for police video will clash. For example, the state of Washington passed a law requiring all police footage not tied up in active investigations to be released to the public. But this is also a cause for privacy concern, because the footage is also being released in raw format, with no blurring or protecting of the privacy of businesses or individuals.

Learn more about body cams and the struggle between the police and YouTube here.

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Source: The Verge
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