Police body camera bill upon becoming law

Courtesy of WV Metro News

SB 418, the general bill for law enforcement officer body cameras, had its first reading on Jan. 12 and is in the process of becoming a law, according to The Florida House of Representatives.

Over 100 young unarmed black men and women were killed by law enforcement in 2015 including 12-year-old Tamir Rice and 18-year-old Michael Brown. As the number of deaths increase, some Florida A&M University students and Florida residents hope this bill will help put the slayings to rest.  

“I would like to thank the family of Corey Jones for coming out on Wednesday in support of this great bill,” Rep. Shervin Jones told Space Coast Daily.

Corey Jones, 31-year-old church musician, was shot to death by an officer in an unmarked van. The officer had no dashboard or body camera.

“Though I filed this very bill last year, their story really motivated me to ensure it passes successfully through the House and into law,” Jones said.

According to the Florida House of Representatives, SB 418 requires that law enforcement officers wear body cameras in order to establish the use of proper policies and procedures. The decision for the bill was unanimous in the House Judiciary Committee.

“I think (SB 418) will promote more agencies, sheriff and police, to embrace the idea of the use of body cameras,” Sen. Christopher Smith, who also sponsors the bill, said.

The bill also requires the periodic review of body camera videos and requires agencies to ensure personnel are trained. Other states around the country, such as Indiana, have also proposed this bill.

"Our department got body cameras to increase the level of transparency and accountability,” Sgt. Jason Cullum told Wave 3 News in Evansville, Ind.  “We can use the videos to dispel false claims against officers and investigate conduct of officers on the streets.”

Some FAMU students are outraged with the increasing number of deaths among unarmed African-Americans and are hopeful that something can be done to record police encounters.

“The cameras have brought justice to several people already,” P3 pharmacy student Surayyah Morris, said. “Hopefully they’ll be instituted to prevent injustices instead of having us find out that a video has been discovered in attempt to cover up a police crime.”