Skubick: Lawmakers Focus On Body Cameras For Police

(WLNS) – In the wake of the nation debate over alleged police brutality, there are renewed talks in Lansing about placing body cameras on police officers around the state. Some lawmakers are pushing for it, but others indicate the money is not there to do it.

The violence in Ferguson, Missouri pitting the local police against the local residents re-ignited the debate over police body cameras.
“There’s evidence suggesting that body cameras lessen the incident of police brutality and really exonerates a lot of police officers,” says State Sen. Bert Johnson. “So it’s a great idea.”

It’s one thing to embrace the body cameras, and the Detroit mayor has done that, but is quite another to pay for it.

State Rep. Al Pscholka explains, “I don’t have the money in the General Fund. If it’s something the Feds want to find then we’ll take a look at it.”
Reporter: “So if there is not federal money, there will be no body cameras for cops?”
Re. Pscholka: “I can’t see that happening.”

State Senator Rick Jones, a former sheriff turned state senator, has first hand experience where cameras on a crime scene turned a potential law suit into no suit. “What cameras do is exonerate the police when they’re doing the right thing.”

But it can also work to protect the public when the police get it wrong. State Rep. Fred Durhall III explains that side of the argument. “There’s a strong push when you have youth shootings and other problems. It is very well supported.”

In addition to legislation to supply the police with body cameras, there is a companion bill to keep all of the video out of the hands of the public.

Liberal Democrat Rep. Jeff Irwin objects. “I understand in certain circumstances, too protect witnesses, families, you could do that, but if it is video gathered with tax dollars, it should be available to the public.”

The governor did not include cop camera money in his budget. He says he supports the concept but on a pilot basis.

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