Five months after President Obama pledged to send police departments $75 million to buy body cameras, the first portion of that money is set to be released. The Justice Department said today that, pending approval by Congress, the administration will be granting $20 million to local police departments as the first part of a three-year program, Reuters reports.
The money won't go toward costs of storing footage
The money comes with some strings: the police departments must already have body camera policies in place to be eligible for a grant, and the federal money will match local dollars. Although the grants will be used for purchase of the cameras and training for police, they won't go toward the costs of storing footage. The first grants will be part of a pilot program to oversee the effectiveness of the cameras.
The announcement comes amid protests across the country against police killings. In Baltimore, protests have continued over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died while in policy custody. Police in Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York, among other departments, have already started body camera programs, but questions remain about how best to regulate their use by police.
In March, Obama said a policing task force concluded that "there is a role for technology to play in building additional trust and accountability, but it's not a panacea," and must be part of a broader push. Still, many have been calling for more body cameras as a way to ensure police accountability. This week, Hillary Clinton called for body cameras to be used in every police department across the United States.