President Barack Obama has requested $263 million from Congress to improve police training, pay for body cameras and hopefully restore people’s faith in policing, reports BBC.
The request comes after a week of nationwide protesting and unrest over alleged police injustice. Ferguson, Missouri was rocked by riots after a grand jury chose not to indict a white officer who fatally shot an unarmed, 18-year-old black man. The protests were not limited to Ferguson; it spread to different regions of the U.S.
“This is not a problem just of Ferguson, Missouri. This is a national problem, but it’s a solvable problem,” President Obama said.
President Obama spoke after he met with mayors, law enforcement officials and civil rights leaders at the White House. During the meeting they discussed a program that currently provides U.S. military tactical gear to law enforcement agencies at no cost, reports BBC.
President Obama stated that he has requested federal agencies give him recommendations to ensure that the program has not begun to create a “militarized culture” in our police forces.
Major criticism has been handed down to the police force in Ferguson, Missouri, for being heavy handed in how they have dealt with protests that were brought about by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown back in August, reports the New York Daily Mail.
President Obama states that the requested funds would be spread out over three years. Some of the funds would go to purchasing 50,000 body cameras for police officers. Funds would also be used for police training.
Body cameras on police officers would provide evidence of the encounters that take place between officers and civilians. It would provide vital information in cases such as the Ferguson shooting.
President Obama stated that the story’s he has been told about discrimination, by young people, was disappointing.
“They violate my belief about what America can do,” the President said.
President Obama also unveiled a new task force on modern policing. The task force will be headed up by Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey.
On Monday, a commission, who has been given the task of making clear recommendations on dealing with the issues that have stemmed from Michael Brown’s fatal shooting, convened in Ferguson. The panel has 16 members and it will consider changes needed in many areas, including public interaction with law enforcement as well as community stability.
Darren Wilson, the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, resigned from the police department over the weekend.
Michael Brown’s supporters say that the teenager was trying to surrender when Wilson shot him 12 times. Some witnesses state that Brown was unarmed with his hands up at the time of the shooting.