McCaskill: If communities want federal law enforcement funds, cops should wear cameras
August 27th, 2014
12:09 AM ET
2 months ago

McCaskill: If communities want federal law enforcement funds, cops should wear cameras

(CNN) – Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said Tuesday that police officers across the country should be required to wear body cameras in order for their departments to qualify for federal funds.

McCaskill believes that the ubiquity of cameras gives way to incidents in which only part of the story is recorded, seen or understood. So, a body camera on every officer will not only protect citizens against police misconduct, but also protect officers from wrongful accusations.

"Everywhere I go people now have cameras," said McCaskill, a Democrat. "And police officers are now at a disadvantage, because someone can tape the last part of an encounter and not tape the first part of the encounter. And it gives the impression that the police officer has overreacted when they haven't."

McCaskill made the comments at an event in Springfield, Missouri, where she answered questions about the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, CNN affiliate KOLR reported.

In the wake of the shooting and community outrage to the response from Ferguson police, McCaskill has called for congressional hearings to examine a Defense Department program that allows local police departments to acquire military weaponry.

Already, President Barack Obama has called for a review of programs that allow for the transfer of military weapons to the police.

Section 1208 in the National Defense Authorization Act has allowed the Defense Department to grant military hardware to local law enforcement since 1990. A law enforcement support program, the military's Defense Logistics Agency, was established in 1999 to facilitate law enforcement militarization.

McCaskill said Thursday she hopes the Senate will embrace her body camera proposal and that it will eventually become law.

"I would like to see us say, 'If you want federal funding in your community, you've got to have body cams on your officers,'" she said. "And I think that would go a long way towards solving some of these problems, and it would be a great legacy over this tragedy that's occurred in Ferguson, regardless of what the facts say at the end as to whether or not anyone is criminally culpable."

soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. Paulocaesar

    When will the race baiting end and real Americans stand up and condemn both the political culture which incubated the police officers sense of entitlement to take a human life so frivolously?,..and the political culture within which the police sought cover in cynical race baiting by releasing tapes of the store robbery to deflect attention.
    This unjust killing has now released a spiritual trigger for justice/vengeance against not just him who committed murder, but those who condone it.

    Do I condone the store robbery?...No! for all I know a cry of anguish and injustice from the roughed up shopkeeper is itself a powerful spiritual trigger for justice/vengeance which went out instantly.

    August 27, 2014 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  2. JJ

    Yea, when politicians start wearing cameras when they're plotting and lying. I wouldn't wear a camera recording my whole day, taking a dump on the toilet, calling my wife and talking about personal issues during a break, or anything else. Yea, when all politicians wear cameras to record their lies behind closed doors, I'll wear a camera from the time I wake up until I go to bed.

    August 27, 2014 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  3. Brian

    The problem is that the video coverage wouldn't be "politically correct". It would show people that are being arrested and currently labeled as poor defenseless victims, as they truly are, murders, rapists and thugs, committing violence against other people or against the police. I can imagine that the Reverend Sharpeton will be up in arms about the violation of the rights of criminals. Its just like the video of Brown showing him committing theft and assault and battery on the owner of the convenience store. Another inconvenient truth. But cops carrying cameras, I think its a good idea, then the media can show the real situation, the kinds of monsters the police have to deal with day in and day out.

    August 27, 2014 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  4. Al

    Absolutely. No brainer that should be done 100% of the time. Protects good people from bad cops and good cops from bad people. Either way the good guy wins and the bad guy loses every time.

    August 27, 2014 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  5. Sonny Free

    police would turn them off and say they malfunctioned i mean who is going to film themselves abusing or killing someone police are thugs but they are not stupid enough to leave the camera on.

    August 27, 2014 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  6. mdl

    How would this impact Miranda rights?

    August 27, 2014 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  7. tomdavie

    I dont mind Claire's suggestion but I worry about the unintended consequences. Taking a whiz might cause some awkward footage back at the precinct. Better hope the officer and their partner aren't gossiping about the mayor's mistress while doing the rounds in the cruiser. Discussing cases might be an issue. Interviewing witnesses will cause legal issues of discovery later on.

    I think the camera can be switched on while approaching a suspect but they need to have some guidelines for it.

    August 27, 2014 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  8. G

    I think Senators/all politicians/public figures should be required to wear cameras as well if they want funding. Lets see what goes on behind closed doors and where the actual atrocities in this country occur.

    August 27, 2014 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  9. Anonymous

    I think this Senator is a racist who has made up her mind & it discusts me to think that someone like her has any power. she has rushed to judgement & doesn't deserve to be a senator i think the whole democratic party is a joke they're destroying this country in any way possible you liberals are the most discusting pigs & should lose your citizenship asap

    August 27, 2014 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  10. Donald Rivers

    Politicians should wear cameras.

    August 27, 2014 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  11. Mark

    This should happen. Too many he said / she said or the officer's word against one of our citizens. Even in the best of circumstances people will never agree one exactly what happened. Having a video tape of encounters will save a ton of money and investigation time. People on juries can see for themselves what took place during the encounters and that is going to be invaluable in cutting down corruption and holding both the people and officers accountable for what went down. It may cost some up front but I see some lawyers having to look for new work as our society reduces doubt and takes power out of their hands in influencing outcomes.

    August 27, 2014 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  12. The right wing have lost their damned minds

    Ya think???? This is totally necessary, because it will stop the nonsense going on on this country with out of control places like Furgeson shooting folks at will...

    August 27, 2014 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  13. Tom Hayes

    Recently, becoming aware that policemen wearing Go-Pro cameras were walking near me, I immediately felt threatened. I wondered if I was being paranoid, until I watched the reactions of other people in the public area. It was obvious that they did not like the invasiveness of the police presence, either.
    McCaskill's claim that one-sided video leaves cops at a disadvantage may be true. But, watching cops shoot unarmed teenagers may provoke more problems, than it cures.... (That video WILL get out to the public! Deleting it would be felonious...)
    How about this: Police go back to the "Protect and Serve" motto, and away from the "Bully and Intimidate" motto of the post 9/11 police generation.....? Maybe even go back to assuming people are innocent until proven guilty, rather than the opposite. And, the police should stop Googling, where they attempt to find any excuse to put people into their database. That is quite often preceded by physical moves on those people by the police... Lastly, they should be drug tested, just like everybody else in such a job. But, not only for recreational drugs, but also for steroids, HGH, ect... I have noticed way too many cops that look like Popeye 'goons'.... BTW: "overwhelming force" is a military term that should VERY seldom be used by law enforcement. It is a lousy way to solve a situation in this current atmosphere of police violence....

    August 27, 2014 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  14. Marie MD

    That would certainly stop some of the unbalance of shooting Blacks and not whites doing the same thing or worse.

    August 27, 2014 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  15. TomInRochNY

    Big Brother (and everyone else) is watching!

    August 27, 2014 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  16. Gurgyl

    Revamp this "Legal system", entire the legal system is at fault.

    August 27, 2014 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  17. Tampa Tim

    Just saw the video where Ferguson Police tear gassed people in their own back yard. It appears the entire force is out of controll.

    August 27, 2014 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  18. denny

    McCaskill could really show the cops a thing or two by sponsoring legislation that does away with cops altogether. Then we could all fend for ourselves and society would be free of frisking, questioning about wrong-doing, accusations of racism, and tax money spent on body cameras.

    August 27, 2014 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  19. Rudy NYC

    McCaskill's proposal is bound to be rejected by some because of the cost to purchase cameras. I think that she could make her idea far more palatable by adding cameras to the program that dispenses the military style equipment.

    August 27, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  20. smith

    I think police officer cameras are a good idea. It not only protects the officer but the citizen as well. If D. Wilson would have had on a body camera the shooting in Ferguson would already be resolved.

    August 27, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  21. sifto77

    Maybe we should also put cams on the criminals and eyewitnesses..if we cant trust our protectors..how can we trust the race.baiting McCaskill? We know she is on the side of whoever will vote for her..in this case it will not be the cops in missouri..

    August 27, 2014 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  22. Anonymous

    Ironic that this particular police force doesn't wear body cameras or have dash cams in their cars, but they have an armored personnel carrier in their fleet.

    August 27, 2014 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  23. sifto77

    What a bunch of race baiting naive people on here...hard to believe people are slamming the cops and sticking up for criminals..maybe they should wait a bit next time you call them as you are being robbed or murdered..

    August 27, 2014 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Rudy NYC

    McCaskill's proposal is bound to be rejected by some because of the cost to purchase cameras.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    If the Ferguson PD can't afford a few bucks for a camera, then they REALLY can't afford their little million dollar armored personnel carrier.

    August 27, 2014 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Anonymous

    Ironic that this particular police force doesn't wear body cameras or have dash cams in their cars, but they have an armored personnel carrier in their fleet.
    ----------------------
    With as many revenue generating traffic stops that they have been reported to have carried out, one would think that they would have dashcams.

    August 27, 2014 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
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