The PJ Tatler

Scott Says Police Body Camera Legislation Not About Federalizing Law Enforcement

Regarding claims that his push for police body cameras is federalizing local law enforcement, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said could be “nothing further than the truth.”

Scott testified this week before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, arguing that a police body cameras would protect both police and citizens and help build trust between communities and law enforcement.

He’ll be introducing legislation on the matter.

“I haven’t heard any of my Senate colleagues come forward and say they believe that the step forward of having body cameras available for law enforcement, local law enforcement, is in any way, shape or form federalizing local law enforcement,” Scott told CNN. “I would oppose, object and strongly stand in the way of federalizing local law enforcement. It’s the worst idea I have heard.”

Scott grew up in the city where Walter Scott, no relation, was running from police last month after a traffic stop and shot in the back. The officer was fired and faces murder charges.

“What this would is would provide funding for local law enforcement who are interested in having body-worn cameras, but cannot afford it,” the senator said of his bill.

“There are about 3,000 or 4,000 jurisdictions around the country that have already made the move in the direction of body cameras. There are some jurisdictions that cannot afford them. What I’m trying to do is make sure that the funding apparatus that could be available is available. And frankly I think it’s going to save more money than it actually costs.”

He said the Walter Scott shooting in his hometown “certainly had a lot to do with me taking a step forward and asking for the hearing that we had yesterday, now asking for the groups that have been part of the hearing process, the experts that have come into my office — we have had over a dozen groups have come in and talk about their concerns, whether it’s disclosure issues, whether it’s data retention, a lot of issues that we need to solve on our way to it.”

“Privacy is a big issue. And it should be a big issue. We should not rush into something. What I hope to see is the laboratory of America working on behalf of the citizens of the country. When you have that many jurisdictions moving forward with body cameras, you would think, three years from now, this is going to be the norm,” he continued. “What I’m trying to do is find the best practices around the country and make them available to other jurisdictions, without us as the federal government coming in and dictating, mandating or requiring anything, but other than having a funding apparatus.”

Scott said he’s “very excited about the fact that the sheriff’s associations that I have met with, the attorney general’s associations that I have met with, the mayors that I have met with all have the same comments.”

“Yes, this will probably be a very good tool for law enforcement officers. Let us talk first about the cost, the data retention, the disclosure issues, FOIA as well, as far as disclosure issues,” he said.

“And if we can overcome those obstacles, then we have a clear path. But everyone so far has agreed that body cameras would in fact lower complaints. One study’s come out that said they declared a 90 percent drop, 90 percent drop in complaints against officers and a 60 percent drop in the use of force. Everyone seems to act differently when they know they’re on video.”