Ferguson: President Barack Obama calls for £75m to fund body cameras for police officers

The plans come after witnesses and white police officer Darren Wilson had conflicting accounts of the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown

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The Independent US

US President Barack Obama as called for $75million (£47million) to be spent on 50,000 body cameras for police officers o record interactions with the public, in the wake of the shooting of teenager Michael Brown.

But President Obama has not answered calls from protesters to demilitarise the police, and will not pull back government programs that provide military-style equipment to local law enforcement officers.

Speaking from the White House during a series of meetings with his Cabinet, civil rights leaders, and police officials, Obama proposed a three-year $263 million spending package to better equip police - $75 million of which would go towards small, lapel-mounted cameras to record on-duty.

The plans will also develop further training for law enforcement and increase resources for police department reform.

The White House believes the cameras will help to ease mistrust between police officers and the public, and has the potential to prevent disputes between police and witnesses of crime.

The proposals come after the case surrounding the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was further complicated by conflicting accounts from police officer Darren Wilson’s and witnesses. While Wilson claims he shot Brown because he "charged" at him, witnesses recall the teenager had his hands in the air, and was walking towards the white police officer as he was shot.

After the shooting and resulting protests in August, President Obama ordered a review of federal programs that fund military gear for local police after critics questioned why police in full body armor with armored trucks were tasked with dispelling demonstrators.

“There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement and we don't want those lines blurred,” Obama said at the time.

But senior administration officials argue that the President is not focused on supporting legislation to repeal the programs authorised by Congress to help fund the equipment for local police. Rather, he wants to make sure there is oversight to ensure the equipment is used safely.

A White House report says that as the programs have grown after the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001, “training has not been institutionalised, specifically with respect to civil rights and civil liberties protections, or the safe use of equipment received through the federal government.”

The Presidents staff will now draft measures that will require federal agencies to work with law enforcement and civil rights and civil liberties organisations to recommend changes.

Following the shooting of Brown, some officers in the St Louis suburb have already started wearing cameras, while the New York Police department became the largest department in the US to adopt the technology when it launched a pilot program in early September.

Additional reporting by AP

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