As the events surrounding the death of unarmed teenager Mike Brown at the hands of Ferguson (MO) police officer Darren Wilson continue to come to a head, those who were unable to attend protests in the physical are taking to the Internet as two petitions have sprung up to help put pressure on the White House to create some measure to prevent police brutality and use of excessive force.
One such petition was created by Kirk Siefert on Change.org and has over 11,000 signatures at press time. Another was created on August 10 and has garnered nearly 100,000 signatures at petitions.whitehouse.gov. Each measure aims to make it mandatory that all law enforcement officers operating in the field be fitted with cameras on their uniforms. Several small municipalities have undertaken such projects in the past. The Rialto (CA) Police Department has been using such apparatus since February 2012. Officer complaints have plunged by 88 percent and officers’ use of force has fallen by 60 percent.
These numbers cannot be denied and if enacted on a federal level would show immediate dividends. However, passing such measures on a federal level would be difficult, in part, because of powerful pro law enforcement lobbyists and conservative pundits who proliferate in Washington, DC. But it should go without saying that if the police departments truly believe that the vast majority of officers are operating above the board then these cameras should be a welcome olive branch to a public who has grown weary of police brutality and the slayings of unarmed suspects that seems to have grown into an epidemic this summer.