PHOENIX — U.S. Rep. and former Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton is pushing for the nationwide usage of body-worn cameras for law enforcement.
Stanton recently introduced a bill to require the use of body-worn cameras for law enforcement officers as a condition of eligibility for federal funding.
The COPS Accountability Act of 2020 would require state, local and tribal government agencies applying for COPS grants to show they have plans in place to put a body camera on every officer who conducts searches and makes arrests.
“As we rethink 21st century policing, we have to make changes that can increase transparency and accountability to make everyone safer,” Stanton told KTAR News 92.3 FM Monday. “I believe that every police officer on patrol ought to be wearing a body camera.
“And if departments want federal funds to expand their forces, they should have to prove first that—at a minimum—they’re willing to make that policy a priority.”
Stanton’s bill would require departments applying for funds to show plans for a body camera policy in the first year of the grant and plans to increase body camera coverage by 25% and 50% in the following fiscal years. Department compliance would be reported by the Attorney General to the House and Senate Judiciary committees.
Not only is Stanton worried about getting a body camera on police officers across the country, but he is committed to finishing what he started as Phoenix’s mayor.
Despite many agencies wearing body cameras — including the Phoenix Police Department — there are still some without the technology in Arizona. One of which currently has a trooper-involved investigation underway with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office after 28-year-old Dion Johnson was shot and killed by a Department of Public Safety trooper near the Loop 101 and Tatum on May 25.
“The Department of Public Safety does not have body cams and as a result we don’t have all the information that we should have as it relates to the tragic killing of Dion Johnson just a few weeks ago,” Stanton said.
“That interaction between DPS and Dion Johnson should have been filmed and we should have the video evidence right in front of us so we can make a better determination.”
Last month, nine departments in Arizona received a total of $4.8 million through the COPS hiring program grant cycle. The grants added 36 new officers across those nine departments.
Since 2012, departments throughout the state have received more than $17.4 million in COPS grants to hire a total of 132 new officers.