Monday, February 9, 2015

States look to increase police accountability

More than a dozen states are considering new legislation aimed at increasing police accountability in the wake of incidents in Ferguson, Mo.; Staten Island, N.Y.; and Cleveland that left unarmed black men dead at the hands of officers.
Dozens of bills addressing body cameras for police have been filed in at least 13 states. Other proposed measures would change the way police departments report officer-involved shootings, racial profiling and the way courts deal with low-level offenders.
“There is a concrete coherent legislative agenda that we are pushing for,” said Cornell Brooks, president and chief executive of the NAACP. “We’ve been doing this from state capital to state capital, as well as here in Washington, D.C.”
Some of the proposed responses have bipartisan support. In other cases, familiar partisan divides between Republicans and Democrats, and civil rights groups and police organizations, are emerging and slowing down legislative action.
According to William Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, lawmakers in California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia have already filed or pre-filed measures that would require at least some law enforcement officials to wear body cameras.
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