District 5 Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong sponsored the legislation, partly because of what happened Aug. 9 in the shooting death of Brown, a teenager in Ferguson, Mo. According to Ferguson’s police chief, there was no camera mounted on the vehicle the police officer accused of shooting Brown was using.
“Across the country stories have been reported about alleged police misconduct,” Archibong said. “Dashboard-cam videos often play an important role in documenting interactions between law enforcement and citizens.”
By 2007, 61 percent of local police departments were using video cameras in patrol cars, up from 55 percent that were using them in 2003, said the U.S. Department of Justice, which has provided grants to help law enforcement buy recording equipment.
Many departments deployed the in-car video camera to record traffic stops and other encounters with the public. In the spirit of building public trust, the in-car camera recording provides an unbiased account of events that allow citizens and others to view what actually occurred during encounters that have been called into question. Agencies and others report that such evidence has been invaluable and that the benefits of the in-car video camera far exceeded the original goals, according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Holder has assigned federal investigators to conduct interviews with eyewitnesses in Ferguson to the shooting of Brown and has pledged assistance from the Justice Department to quell “extreme displays of force” and militarization by heavily armed local police there.
Holder said, “It is clear that the scenes playing out in the streets of Ferguson over the last several nights cannot continue.”
The attorney general has ordered a civil rights investigation into Brown’s death, led by federal prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Missouri, civil rights lawyers in Washington and the FBI.
The Justice Department is taking two additional steps:
o The Community Relations Service, a peacemaking and reconciliation unit set up to mediate civil rights struggles in the 1960s in the American South, has dispatched officials to Missouri to meet with law enforcement, civic and faith leaders to try to reduce tensions.
o Local authorities have accepted the offer of technical assistance from other parts of the Justice Department in order to help conduct crowd control and maintain public safety without relying on unnecessary and extreme displays of force.
The stories of the eyewitnesses are vastly divergent which could have been resolved had there been cameras in the police vehicles involved in the situation which could have recorded what occurred.
A copy of the council’s resolution will be forward to the Justice Department.