Like everyone else, you've heard about all the accusations the past year about police brutality, including some tragic deaths. The problem in many of these cases is that there was no video footage to definitively prove whether the cops or the victims of that alleged brutality were at fault.
No sooner did these tragedies hit the news than a lot of people started saying that police should be wearing body cameras. That's a great idea, and it's doable. Small cameras on their helmets or their uniforms can record their interactions with innocent citizens and violent criminals.
This week, that idea took a giant leap toward becoming reality, with some 21,000 police about to be equipped with body-worn cameras. That's just for starters.
It's part of the Department of Justice's Body-Worn Camera Pilot Partnership Program, which the Obama Administration launched in May. Justice has awarded $19.3 million in grants to police departments around the country, to fund their purchase of body-worn cameras.
In all, 73 police departments in 42 states will now have the funds to buy 21,000 body-worn cameras. Among the police departments receiving grants are Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami-Dade County, and others.
Many other police departments applied for grants, but were turned down because funds ran out. In total, some 285 police departments applied for grants.
The Department of Justice also awarded an additional $1.9 million to test the impact of these cameras on police, and the people they interact with. The cities testing this impact are: Miami, Milwaukee and Phoenix.
However, there may be many more grants coming. President Obama is proposing to issue more grants within two years, enough to bring up the number of body-worn cameras in the Body-Worn Camera Pilot Partnership Program to 50,000.