Recent actions by the White House prove Mike Brown’s death—and the civil disobedience that followed—weren’t in vain.
One thing has been consistent in the aftermath of Ferguson: the call from the public for increased police training and widespread implementation of body-worn cameras. Police departments, including Philadelphia’s, are piloting the technology in high crimes areas, however, a full-scale roll-out would require more money and capacity than the majority of American agencies have in-house.
In this particular matter, I believe it’s government’s job to intervene and initiate mechanisms to supply the capital, which I why I support President Barack Obama’s proposal for a three-year $263 million spending package—which includes $75 million for the small, lapel-mounted cameras—that’ll increase the use of body-worn cameras, expand training and advance police reform initiatives.
Coupled with the proposal is the newly created Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which will be co-chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who is the current President of the Police Executive Research Forum and a supporter of the emerging technology.
President Obama has taken much criticism—mainly from those in the black community—for not traveling to Ferguson before and after the Grand Jury’s decision to be a figure of calm, but this move proves he’s aware of public’s needs and is doing his part in the bigger picture.
While much still needs to be worked out in terms of details—for instance, most agencies have opposing views on whether cameras should record every police interaction or only when the officer chooses to turn it on, the latter is said to protect witnesses and avoid recording in citizen’s home—the public should rally around this proposal to make sure it materializes.
Again, this spending package and the Task Force on 21st Century Policing—the latter which will be established by executive order—is not THE ANSWER, but AN ANSWER to this larger question: how do we get citizens—particularly those who are black and brown—to live with the law and not under it.
The community, along with civil rights organizations, will now be able to sit at the table with police department executives and contribute ideas that’ll improve police and community relations.
This action by the leader of the free world is a direct response to what took place in Ferguson, Missouri. And of course nothing … nothing at all could ever bring back Mr. Michael Brown, Jr., but it’s comforting to know he didn’t die in vain.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster