US violence prompts petition for police to wear cameras

AFP
Demonstrators protesting Michael Brown's murder speak with Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri
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Washington (AFP) - A public petition calling for US police to wear cameras will receive White House consideration after the killing of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri prompted days of tense protests.

Under a program established by President Barack Obama's administration, the White House is compelled to review and officially respond to a petition if it receives more than 100,000 signatures.

As of early Monday, the petition to create the Mike Brown Law, named after the 18-year-old shot by police, and that would require all state, county and local police to wear a video camera had more than 112,000 signatures.

The petition, according to its text, is "an effort to not only detour (sic) police misconduct (i.e. brutality, profiling, abuse of power), but to ensure that all police are following procedure."

Ferguson has been plagued by protests and race riots following the August 9 shooting of Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager.

The majority black town's police force is predominantly white, and the shooting and subsequent reaction has focused national attention on the continuing problems with race relations in America, particularly between security forces and young blacks.

Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and a midnight curfew after looting and violence overnight Friday, and Missouri's National Guard has been deployed to restore order.

Residents have taken to the streets in anger over an apparent lack of police accountability in Ferguson.

The petition seeks to rein in police misconduct, as well as enhance accountability of citizens who engage with law enforcement.

With video and surveillance technology rapidly improving, US police forces have begun experimenting with systems that make use of small, body-mounted cameras that objectively record all interactions between a police officer and private citizens.

The transparency brought about by the systems' use has reportedly led to reduced use of force and complaints in some locales.

In the town of Rialto, California, within the first year of the cameras' introduction, use of force by officers declined 60 percent, while complaints against police plunged by 88 percent, the New York Times reported.

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