Gun Violence

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Issue: Gun Violence

Impact:

The legislation could impact state court operations.  

Position:

No formal position.

Summary:

On 2/26/15, Representative Al Green, (D-TX) introduced the Camera Accountability Maintenance and Transparency in Policing Act of 2015 (H.R. 1124) to establish a grant program providing for the acquisition, operation, and maintenance of body-worn cameras for law enforcement officers.  The funded body camera programs would be required to:

  • establish policies and procedures for when law enforcement officers should wear, activate, and deactivate such cameras;
  • ensure the protection of civil liberties of members of the general public;
  • limit the use of recordings of such cameras to monitor the conduct of law enforcement officers outside of their official interactions with the public;
  • develop standards regarding the effective body placement of such cameras;
  • describe best practices for receiving an accurate narrative from recordings;
  • establish procedures for collecting and storing recordings;
  • establish policies governing the availability of such recordings to the general public, to victims of crimes, and for internal use by law enforcement; and
  • have guidelines and training for law enforcement officers on the proper management and use of such cameras.

The measure would require grants to be awarded first to qualifying local governments with fewer than 100,000 residents, with any remaining funds awarded to other applicants on a pro rata basis.   Further, H.R.1124 would establish a task force within DOJ to: (1) provide recommendations on community policing, (2) study the impact that citizen review boards could have on investigating cases of alleged police misconduct, and (3) conduct a survey to determine best practices and the effectiveness of the body camera requirement policy.

On 3/26/15, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Corrine Brown (D-FL) introduced the Police CAMERA Act (S. 877) to establish a pilot grant program to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in purchasing body-worn cameras for law enforcement officers in order to deter excessive force, improve accountability and transparency of use of force by law enforcement officers, assist in responding to complaints against officers, and improve evidence collection.  Grantees would be required to:

  • develop, with community input, policies for the safe and effective use of body-worn cameras, for the secure storage; handling, and destruction of data collected, for protecting the privacy rights of any individual who may be recorded, and for the release of any data collected in accordance with the open records laws of the state;
  • conduct periodic evaluations of the security of the storage and handling of the body-worn camera data; and
  • adopt data collection and retention protocols.

The measure would allow data collected to be used only in internal and external investigations of misconduct by a law enforcement agency or officer, if there is reasonable suspicion that a recording contains evidence of a crime, or for limited training purposes. Grantees would be prohibited from transferring any collected data to another law enforcement or intelligence agency, except for investigations of crimes and civil rights violations.

On 7/29/15, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the Safer Officers and Safer Citizens Act of 2015 (S. 1897) to help keep law enforcement officers and communities safer by making grants to purchase body worn cameras for use by state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers.  S. 1897 would require the Bureau of Justice Assistance to give preference to grant applications from jurisdictions that: (1) have comprehensive policies and procedures related to implementation of a body-worn camera program, (2) have high percentages of officers without access to body-worn cameras, (3) have violent crime rates above the national average, and (4) agree to submit metrics on the use of body-worn cameras.

Status:

There has been no action to-date on these bills.