The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Sunday that Ferguson police officers began wearing body cameras this past Saturday. Embattled Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson told The Post that 50 cameras were donated to the police department from Safety Visions and Digital Ally in the wake of 18-year-old Michael Brown’s shooting death at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The unarmed Brown was shot dead on August 9th after an incident that began with Wilson confronting Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, for jaywalking. Brown was shot six times and an audio recording from the time of the shooting indicates that Wilson fired at Brown at least ten times.
Per Jackson, the cameras were first utilized during the day Saturday due to that day’s activities. A peaceful march of at least a thousand protesters took place in Ferguson on Saturday morning. The march, which was led by Brown’s parents, started on W. Florissant Ave., where most of the protests have occurred in the aftermath of the shooting, and ended right in front of the Ferguson police department headquarters. Hundreds of protesters remained gathered near the building for much of the day, chanting and making their voices heard regarding their desire to see Officer Wilson arrested.
Of course, in typical Jackson fashion, he pointed out to The Post that the cameras worked because he was able to catch images of protesters taunting police officers.
Jackson said the officers had the devices on during the protest march on Saturday and were able to capture video images of crowd members taunting officers.
This is just another example of the town’s police chief needlessly inciting and antagonizing Ferguson residents in the wake of Brown’s death. The people of Ferguson are absolutely fed up with Jackson and want him removed as soon as possible. However, Jackson has steadfastly refused to resign, and nobody with any authority to remove him has given any indication that he will be let go anytime soon. In the meantime, heavy distrust will continue to exist between the town’s residents and the police department.
However, even though Jackson is still serving as the chief of police in Ferguson, we should still acknowledge that progress is being made and some good is coming out of an absolutely tragic event. Body cameras on police has been one of the key issues that many protesters and community leaders wanted addressed over the past few weeks. The fact that the Ferguson police department is now equipped with them is a definite victory for those wanting local law enforcement to be held more accountable for their actions.
Better yet, other police departments in the St. Louis area are jumping on board. The Post reports that Ellisville, a small community in the much more affluent West County section of St. Louis County, approved expenditures to equip their officers with cameras. Other departments are looking into it as well. It seems likely that we’ll eventually see residents and local leaders push for both the St. Louis County and Metro departments to have officers wear body cameras. Eventually, we may see this become a law nationwide. Right now, there is a petition at whitehouse.gov to establish a Mike Brown Law requiring all officers to wear cameras. The petition already has over 150,000 signatures.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).