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Obama to move on police body cameras after Ferguson unrest

Obama to move on police body cameras after Ferguson unrest
US President Barack Obama will seek to release funds aimed at equipping more police officers with body cameras following the racially charged fatal shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, the White House said on Monday. The August death of Michael Brown revived long-standing questions about how police, especially white officers, interact with African Americans.

However, the President- who met with civil rights and law enforcement leaders amid ongoing protests over a grand jury decision not to charge the white police officer in the shooting- ruled out reducing federal sales of surplus military equipment to police forces.

Instead, the President said he would issue an executive order with new guidance for the controversial program, which sparked renewed debate after images during the first protests in Ferguson showed police perched on armored trucks aiming rifles at demonstrators.

“We found that in many cases, these programs actually serve a very useful purpose,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, citing the example of Boston police drawing on military-grade equipment after the bombings at the city’s marathon in April 2013.

Obama is also proposing a three-year, $263 million investment package that will increase the use of body-worn cameras and expand training for law enforcement agencies. Calls for police officers to wear micro-cameras fitted to uniforms have mounted since Brown was killed. As part of the initiative, a partnership program would provide a 50 % match to states who purchase body-worn cameras. The goal of the investment is to have 50,000 more body cameras in use within three years, the White House said.

Obama called on Congress to work with him to ensure police forces are “adequately resourced for the training and the technology that can enhance trust between communities and police.”
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