Delaware State Police Mulling Body Cameras - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware State Police Mulling Body Cameras

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP)- Leaders in Delaware are considering whether to equip state troopers with body cameras in the wake of the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Democratic Gov. Jack Markell is planning to meet with the Delaware State Police and the Delaware branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The Delaware NAACP has led early calls to equip the state's law enforcement with body cameras.

A spokesman for Delaware State Police said the agency is researching the logistics and feasibility of body cameras, and Markell spokesman Jonathon Dworkin said the governor was open to the idea.

Dworkin said Markell and the state police will have to consider costs, data storage, and how much value would be added beyond in-car police cameras and microphones already used by troopers.

Richard Smith, president of the Delaware NAACP, said police cameras would provide accountability for police, while protecting law enforcement from frivolous lawsuits.

"It protects both parties, police and the citizens," Smith said.

He pointed to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, saying a police body camera would have proved exactly what happened, as opposed to varying witness accounts and the word of Officer Darren Wilson.

Fred Calhoun, president of the Delaware Fraternal Order of Police, which represents about 2,500 law enforcement officers in the state, said there is some merit in body cameras.

"I don't think any officer is opposed having a camera video them while they're doing their job," Calhoun said. "It probably could have prevented a lot of issues over the years. A perfect example is what happened in Ferguson. That would not be in question if there was a camera."

He said there are some concerns about privacy for officers, saying they shouldn't be subject to surveillance when they're not responding to an incident or on their lunch breaks.

Though it has a record of opposing surveillance, the American Civil Liberties Union came out in support of more cameras in a policy paper last year.

"Although we generally take a dim view of the proliferation of surveillance cameras in American life, police on-body cameras are different because of their potential to serve as a check against the abuse of power by police officers," wrote Jay Stanley, an ACLU senior policy analyst.

In its statement following a grand jury's decision declining to indict Wilson last week, Michael Brown's family called for more police body cameras, saying they'd help prevent violence.

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