On Monday, the White House proposed $263 million in federal funding for police body cameras and training as the administration attempts to respond to unrest in Ferguson following the grand jury decision last week to not indict the white police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.
The program, which needs congressional approval, would provide $75 million over three years to match state funding for police body cameras by 50%, paying for over 50,000 devices, NBC News reported. Michael Brown’s parents have campaigned for greater use of police body cameras.
The announcement comes as Obama holds meetings with law enforcement officials, civil rights leaders and Cabinet officials to discuss potential reforms to ease mistrust towards police in the United States, especially in minority areas.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Barack Obama” author_title=”President of the United States”]
As the nation has observed, trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services.
Several prominent protest leaders from Ferguson will attend the meetings, the Washington Post reported. Obama will also meet with young community leaders from New York City and Cleveland, where a 12-year-old boy was recently shot by a police officer while holding a toy gun.
On Monday, the Obama administration said it will not seek major changes to the program that transfers military equipment to law enforcement agencies but will focus on improved oversight, transparency and training.
The administration released a new report that recommended military equipment financed by the federal government have “a legitimate civilian law enforcement purpose.” The report on police equipment said that, between 2009 and 2014, the federal government gave almost $18 billion to local law enforcement agencies through programs administered by the departments of Justice, Defense, Homeland Security, Treasury and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, USA Today reported.
Obama will also announce a new task force, led by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and former Office of Justice Programs AG Laurie Robinson. The task force will report back on best practices within 90 days of its creation.