McSpadden provides an assist for Nasheed's body camera bill
When then-Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, the policeman wasn’t wearing a body camera. And the uncertainty that followed provided a spark of sorts for programs to help law enforcement get the devices.
But Missouri did not pass legislation last year that would assist local police departments pay for body cameras – and provide guidelines for when footage is released. On Wednesday the issue returned with lawmakers receiving encouragement from Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown.
“It would have given me the truth. It would have answered a lot of unanswered questions,” McSpadden said. “And as far as the privacy issue or the money issue, neither of the two is greater than saving a life. Neither.”
McSpadden testified before a Senate committee in favor of Sen. Jamilah Nasheed’s body camera legislation. As introduced, the bill would require large cities like St. Louis and Kansas City to provide officers with body cameras and set up a state mechanism to help pay for the devices. (Nasheed said those funds would be subject to appropriation.)
Additionally, the bill would require law enforcement agencies to retain body camera footage for two years. It would make the footage open records in the same manner as incident reports.
Nasheed said many aspects of the bill may likely change. But she added that it’s time for Missouri to act, especially since relatively conservative states such as Texas and South Carolina have passed bills that support body cameras.
“Now is the time to show the nation that we’re listening to the cries of the people who were on the forefront in Ferguson during the unrest,” Nasheed said. “We’re listening and we’re ready to step up to the plate and do something that is of great significance to the state of Missouri.”