Addressing widespread criticism of policing practices and officer accountability, U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton wants to require body camera use by law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding.
The COPS Accountability Act of 2020, H.R. 7150, would require state, local and tribal government agencies applying for grants from the COPS program to show that a plan is in place to put a body camera on every officer who conducts searches and makes arrests.
Rep. Stanton said most jurisdictions in Arizona have budgeted for officers to have body cams, but not all officers have them.
"Accountability should happen at the local level," he said, and added that body cams are of national importance now. "We’re going to require that police departments around the country have body cams and use those body cams if they are going to apply for federal funding," he said.
Stanton is aiming to get the COPS Accountability Act of 2020 included in a congressional police reform package, one of the many reform efforts in the works nationally after the police killing of George Floyd.
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.
Stanton said the program builds accountability because agencies that apply for the grants have to certify they are meeting those requirements. Nine Arizona police departments received funding from the program in June, Stanton said, but there needs to be more.
"DPS, which is one of our largest agencies that covers jurisdictions statewide, DPS has not put in their budget body cams for their officers," he said.
According to Stanton's office, 36 new police officers received funding from the program in June, using $4.8 million in funding. Since 2012, departments throughout Arizona have hired 132 new officers and received more than $17.4 million in COPS funding.