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Missouri protests prompt body cam debate

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Updated: 8/19/2014 12:02 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV -- The killing of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, that has sparked outrage throughout the area has again brought up the debate of whether local law enforcement should be required to wear body cameras.

The cameras have been discussed several times before in Las Vegas, but as incidents as the one in Missouri nab headlines across the world, the discussion is now at the forefront.

With questions revolving around what exactly happened in the debated shooting last week in Missouri, the use of body cameras by law enforcement officials could help give a clearer picture of such events.
Tod Story, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said that body cams could be the answer to ending events such as the Ferguson one.

"It eliminates the he-said, she-said to an incident or a stop or the potential for an arrest," Story said.

Body cameras have already been implemented by more than 3,000 police agencies nationwide and around 200 Metropolitan Police officers are already wearing the cameras voluntarily as part of a pilot program. Once the program concludes, the department will decide whether to keep them.

Despite the advantages of body cameras, not everyone supports the proposed program.

Chris Collins, with the Police Protective Association, explained that if body cameras are made mandatory for officers, incidents that occur when the cameras are off will lead to the public assuming automatic guilt on the officers’ behalf.

"So as this altercation spills out of the patrol vehicle onto the street, are you going to have the wherewithall, or the mindset, or the time to reach up and turn the camera on. And if you don't then everyone's going to say clearly you shot him for no reason because you didn't turn the camera on."

In addition to the possible issues that cameras might create, there is also the question of cost.

With body cameras costing upwards of $900 dollars, the overall cost for Metro could reach around $3 million to outfit the entire force.

Those in favor of the cameras believe that in the long run that hefty price tag could actually save Metro money, as the use of cameras should reduce the number of lawsuits filed against the department.



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