U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch,
in Little Rock today to open a conference on violence reduction, announced a $20 million Justice Department program for police agencies to buy body cameras.
$16 million will go to 106 state, local and tribal agencies in 32 states, including Arkansas, for equipment. The balance will go for support and assistance.
A news release described the aim of the expenditure as being "to make a positive impact on the quality of policing in individual communities."
“As we strive to support local leaders and law enforcement officials in their work to protect their communities, we are mindful that effective public safety requires more than arrests and prosecutions,” said Attorney General Lynch. “It also requires winning – and keeping – the trust and confidence of the citizens we serve. These grants will help more than 100 law enforcement agencies promote transparency and ensure accountability, clearing the way for the closer cooperation between residents and officers that is so vital to public safety.”
The camera program began last year. The department says initial research shows that use of cameras improves law enforcement interaction with the public.
Recent events demonstrate, too, that body cameras are not infallible records of police-suspect confrontations.
Lynch happened to speak on day that FBI crime stats showed an increase
in violent crime in 2015. Little Rock and West Memphis are participating in the violence reduction network. Lynch said progress had been made in some cities, despite the national trend.
Here's a copy of Lynch's prepared remarks for today's talk in Little Rock.
The Justice Department also announced other spending Monday — $33 million for sexual assault investigations and $13.6 million for police department initiatives on information sharing, poor neighborhoods and illegal firearms.