U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom is urging Kansas law enforcement agencies to apply for a federal body-camera pilot program.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced a $20 million body-camera pilot program for local-level law enforcement agencies Friday. It plans to award grants to 50 law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Grissom said he had spoken to law enforcement and community leaders across the state. “I have heard from both groups that body cameras should be standard equipment,” he said. “Both sides of this issue agree this is one of the best ways to build trust and to keep both the public and officers safe.”
The push for police to wear body cameras has been prompted by controversies surrounding officer-involved shootings across the country. Supporters say body cameras provide an important tool for accountability and transparency.
Legislation that would have made body cameras mandatory for law enforcement agencies in Kansas failed to gain traction in the Legislature this session.
The Wichita Police Department is outfitting all of its officers with body cameras by the end of 2015.
“The funding has been identified” to pay for those cameras, Lt. James Espinoza said.
What impact, if any, the federal pilot program may have is unknown at this point, Espinoza said, because officials just learned of it on Friday.
Contributing: Stan Finger of The Eagle