The shooting death of an unarmed African American man, Walter Scott, by a North Charleston Police Officer, Michael Slager, has been front page news here in Charleston since it happened last weekend. Walter Scott was killed after the officer fired 8 shots. The fact that the incident was caught on camera by a civilian bystander has left little room for debate over the course of events that day. The indisputable footage is causing citizens to now demand body cameras on all officers, a request that is being met by the city of North Charleston.
According to the Huffington Post, Mayor Keith Summey ”announced Wednesday that the city will supply more than 200 body cameras for the police force…Summey said at a press conference Wednesday that North Charleston…has a grant to supply 101 body cameras for the officers, and that he has ordered 150 more…Summey noted that was enough for every patrol officer to wear one.”
North Charleston is not the only city making this change. Cities in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, among others, have been placing large orders for body cameras, according to TASER International, Inc.
One group that has seen success after implementing body cameras is the San Diego Police Department. According to TASER International, Inc, “A report that was developed by San Diego’s Police Department for the City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee showed that complaints fell 41%, total allegations were reduced by 60% and use of “personal body” force by officers dropped by 47%. The use of pepper spray was also reduced by 31%. The results from this study reflect comparisons to prior periods in which body-worn cameras were not deployed.” The San Diego PD has seen such a change that they plan to increase the number of cameras from 600 to 1,000.
The South Carolina legislator is currently debating a bill which will require law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. This bill is gaining traction after the recent tragedy between Michael Slager and Walter Scott. Law enforcement officials have indicated they support the bill but are concerned with costs and privacy. Ultimately I believe a bill requiring body cameras will pass in South Carolina along with similar laws throughout the rest of the country.