Tuesday, December 2, 2014


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — President Obama announced Monday a proposal for a $263 million spending package to increase body cameras and expand training for law enforcement officials.
Of that $263 million, $75 million would go to purchasing 50,000 police body cameras.
A group plans to go in front of the Grand Rapids City Commission Tuesday to push for body cameras on Grand Rapids police officers.
“Overwhelmingly we are hearing support for body cameras. We’re also hearing that it’s just part of the solution. So once again we know at its core it’s the trust it’s the trust that the police department has to build with certain populations,” The Co-Executive Director of LINC Darel Ross said.
Ross says the group they are bringing to the city commission meeting would like to see body cameras on all GRPD officers or at the very least patrol officers.
“We know it’s ambitious and will have to be rolled out in phases,” said Ross. “We just want to start some conversations and we truly believe residents in the community have a right to speak to how they are policed.”
But they might have an uphill battle. The Grand Rapids police chief told 24 Hour News 8 in an interview last month he sees issues with body cams.
“I have concerns more that people who have issues in their neighborhood and may want to share those concerns would be reluctant to do so,” said Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky
Rahinsky said if people know they are being recorded they won’t be willing share information needed to solve a case.
He’s also worried about recording children, sexual assault and domestic violence victims.
“I’m not comfortable with officers having the ability to activate those cameras in private residences,” said Chief Rahinsky.
“I think he raises some legitimate concerns and once again I think that’s why it’s thoughtful policy. I don’t think anybody is saying if you are working with police we are going to record you or the instance of domestic violence is going to of on film,” Ross said.
A study done on the Rialto, California Police Department after their officers started wearing body cameras found there was a 60 percent reduction in officer use of force incidents and an 88 percent decrease in the number of citizen complaints.
“We don’t want it to come down to a he said she said, and in today’s world we don’t have to there is technology,” said Ross.
Ross also said many realize body cameras are not the end all, they would also like to see community policing and a more diverse police force.
“I think America has a lot of healing to do,” said Ross. “And I think that the criminal justice system has its own issues and I think this is an easy way to make the criminal justice system a little better while also breeding accountability to those who are paid to protect and serve.”
LINC is serving a dinner at 5:30 before Tuesday night’s city commission meeting at its headquarters located at 1167 Madison SE in Grand Rapids. A bus will leave for those needing transportation to the meeting at 6:45 p.m.

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