Increasing the use of body worn cameras, and improving community policing top of Obama’s Priority list

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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with elected officials, community and faith leaders, and law enforcement officials to discuss how communities and law enforcement can work together to build trust to strengthen neighborhoods across the country. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

The President has proposed a three-year, $263 million investment package that will:
” Increase police officers’ use of body worn cameras
” Expand training for law enforcement agencies (LEAs)
” Add more resources for police department reform
” Multiply the number of cities where the Department of Justice facilitates community and local LEA engagement
Part of the proposal is a new Body Worn Camera Partnership Program, which would provide a 50 percent match to states and localities that purchase body worn cameras and requisite storage. In fact, the proposed $75 million, three-year investment could help purchase 50,000 body worn cameras.
As noted in a recent report released by Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), evidence shows that body worn cameras help strengthen accountability and transparency, and that officers and civilians both act in a more positive manner when they’re aware that a camera is present.
The President is planning to create a Task Force on 21st Century Policing, chaired byPhiladelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who also serves as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association; and Laurie Robinson, professor at George Mason University and former Assistant Attorney General for DOJ’s Office of Justice ProgramsIn August, the President ordered a review of federal funding and programs that help equip state and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs). Over the course of the review, the White House explored whether existing federal programs:
” Provide LEAs with equipment that is appropriate for what their communities need
” Ensure that LEAs have adequate policies in place for use of the equipment, and that their personnel are trained and certified on how to use this equipment
” Encourage LEAs to employ practices and standards that prevent misuse or abuse of this equipment
The final report, released today, finds inconsistencies in how these federal programs are structured, implemented, and audited. The report also identifies four areas of further focus that could help ensure that these programs help maximize the safety and security of both police officers and their communities:
1. Local community engagement
2. Federal coordination and oversight
3. Training requirements
4. The community-policing model
In light of this review, President Obama is planning to issue an Executive Order directing relevant agencies to work together and with law enforcement and civil rights and civil liberties organizations to develop specific recommendations within four months.

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