On the cusp of launching his expected presidential campaign, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who visited Ferguson, Mo., in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting, joined with Democrats to introduce police body camera legislation this week.
The Police Creating Accountability by Making Effective Recording Available (Police CAMERA) Act of 2015 would establish a grant program to equip departments with body cameras “in order to deter excessive force, improve accountability and transparency of use of force by law enforcement officers, assist in responding to complaints against law enforcement officers, and improve evidence collection.”
Paul joined with Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) to introduce the bill in the upper chamber, while Reps. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) have introduced the legislation in the House.
“Body cameras will benefit the brave men and women who serve in our police force and the people they protect,” said Paul, who has been focusing on criminal justice reform with the other side of the aisle. “The use of body cameras helps officers collect and preserve evidence to solve crimes, while also decreasing the number of complaints against police. The Police CAMERA Act will help state and local police departments access this new tool, while ensuring that the privacy rights of every civilian is respected.”
Ellison said that “after the tragic deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Robert Saylor and Tamir Rice, a stronger bond must be forged between our communities and police forces.”
“The pilot program created by the Police CAMERA Act empowers law enforcement officials who want to do better for the people they protect and serve,” he said. “Body cameras alone won’t stop the next tragedy, but we should take every common-sense step we can to increase accountability and protect both civilians and police officers.”
The bill is backed by the NAACP and the ACLU. Built into the bill is a study after two years of the program’s operation to determine if the body cameras make a difference.
Paul begins his “Stand with Rand” tour April 7 in Louisville, Ky., with stops afterward in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa and Nevada.