Cops should wear cameras if they want federal funding, senator says

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (CNN) — Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said Tuesday that police officers across the country should be required to wear body cameras in order for their departments to qualify for federal funds.

McCaskill believes that the ubiquity of cameras gives way to incidents in which only part of the story is recorded, seen or understood. So, a body camera on every officer will not only protect citizens against police misconduct, but also protect officers from wrongful accusations.

"Everywhere I go people now have cameras," said McCaskill, a Democrat. "And police officers are now at a disadvantage, because someone can tape the last part of an encounter and not tape the first part of the encounter. And it gives the impression that the police officer has overreacted when they haven't."

McCaskill made the comments at an event in Springfield, Missouri, where she answered questions about the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

In the wake of the shooting and community outrage to the response from Ferguson police, McCaskill has called for congressional hearings to examine a Defense Department program that allows local police departments to acquire military weaponry.

Already, President Barack Obama has called for a review of programs that allow for the transfer of military weapons to the police.

Section 1208 in the National Defense Authorization Act has allowed the Defense Department to grant military hardware to local law enforcement since 1990.

McCaskill said she hopes the Senate will embrace her body camera proposal and that it will eventually become law.

"I would like to see us say, 'If you want federal funding in your community, you've got to have body cams on your officers,'" she said. "And I think that would go a long way towards solving some of these problems, and it would be a great legacy over this tragedy that's occurred in Ferguson, regardless of what the facts say at the end as to whether or not anyone is criminally culpable."

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