On Top Of Recent Urging By Black Lawmakers, New Poll Also Expresses Need For Body Cams

Oct 27, 2015

Corey Jones, a South Florida man, was recently fatally shot by a plainclothes police officer. Four agencies, including the FBI, are investigating. The Florida Black Legislative Caucus members say his case shows why body cameras are needed.
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A new online poll suggests there’s overwhelming support for law enforcement across the nation to wear body cameras. It comes on the heels of some Florida lawmakers also saying there is an express need for the cameras, after a recent South Florida death.

A group calling itself the Leadership Conference Education Fund commissioned the online poll by Anazalone Liszt Grove Research’s Matt Hogan.  880 people were polled.

“What we find is just overwhelming support for requiring police officers to wear body worn cameras,” said Hogan. “Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans—88 percent—support requiring police to wear body cameras while on duty, and that support extends across racial and partisan lines, exceeding 80 percent among each of those audiences.”

Hogan says those who want the cameras also want clear guidelines in place for how the cameras and their footage are used. And, Sakira Cook with the Leadership Conference says it’s understandable.

“We don’t just want them to adopt the body camera program, and just start indiscriminately filming communities as they’re walking up and down the street, and not have clear guidelines around when the cameras should be on and off, how video is retained and accessed, whether an officer can view the video prior to writing an initial report,” said Cook.

And, that’s similar to legislation refiled this year by Rep. Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) in the Florida Legislature.

“Last session, Senator Chris Smith and I filed legislation, asking those cities and those agencies who currently have police body cameras to put rules and regulations in place to make sure that they are used properly,” he said, during a recent press conference of the Black Legislative Caucus. “But, looking at the situation with Corey Jones, if this officer had been equipped with a body camera, there would evidence to show what was the confrontation, if there was one? And, what happened prior to the shooting? Now, there’s no evidence. The evidence is now up to the officer, because Corey Jones is no longer living.”

He’s referring to a case where Corey Jones, a South Florida man, was killed by a plainclothes Palm Beach Gardens police officer in an unmarked car last week. Jones’ car had been stalled on the road. Recent reports say the 31-year-old was on the phone with AT&T's roadside assistance when he was fatally shot by Nouman Raja, who claims Jones had a pulled a gun on him. The FBI is among four agencies investigating the case.

Meanwhile, another bill by Representative Jones is currently Florida law. It creates a public records exemption for the body camera recordings to address privacy concerns.

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