Body cameras recommended for US police by President Obama's task force

Presidential task force makes other recommendations to improve policing in the US

A task force set up by President Barack Obama has called for an increased use of body cameras by police in the US as part of its effort to outline ways to improve relations between law enforcement and citizens.

Mr Obama created the task force in December in response to an increase in police killing unarmed minorities, including the high-profile deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner last year.

The Task Force on 21st Century Policing released a 76-page draft on Sunday that suggested several ways for police to improve relations with the communities they serve, the Wall Street Journal reported. The full report is expected to be released in April.

Increased use of body cameras was one of the top recommendations made by the task force, as proponents claim the cameras will help police relations in two important ways. They provide a view into interactions between police and citizens, likely eliminating questions about those interactions, and the cameras encourage police to behave properly, since their actions are being recorded.

Body cameras likely would have removed the unknown from the deadly shooting of Mr Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old black man who was shot by a white police officer last year in Ferguson, Missouri.

Debate raged about the confrontation immediately before the officer shot Mr Brown. Police said Mr Brown was behaving aggressively and charged at the officer, while the victim’s family said he was retreating and had his hands in the air as a sign of surrender. Had the officer been wearing a body camera, there could be no questions about what happened.

Body cameras aside, the task force also recommended improving US policing by increased oversight, better use of social media and other technology, better training and education for officers, and more access to police data for the public, among other things.

Mr Obama will discuss the draft this week with the task force, which will make changes ahead of the final report in April.

 

Follow Payton Guion on Twitter @PaytonGuion.

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