Baton Rouge police officers need body cameras as a means to increase law enforcement accountability, improve police-community relations and provide safety to our city.

In Washington, the House of Representatives recently unanimously passed an amendment to increase funding for police body cameras. The amendment allocates an additional $10 million to the Department of Justice’s Body Worn Camera Partnership Program and brings funding for that program up to $25 million.

Already, 25 percent of the nation’s 17,000 police agencies use body cameras, and studies show that 86 percent of Americans support requiring on-duty patrol officers in their communities to wear video cameras. The International Association of Chiefs of Police has also voiced its support for the technology.

Baton Rouge Police Department Chief Dabadie has consistently been good with budgeting, and I don’t believe he would publicly support body cameras for his Police Department if there were no viable means to find the funds.

The recently approved amendment is considered “cost neutral,” meaning the value is far more important that the cost.

The Police Department has committed to provide funds to fit 100 police officers with body cameras as part of a pilot program. Additionally, the department has applied for a $750,000 grant to further its efforts.

The Body Worn Camera Partnership Program supports competitive grants for the purchase of body-worn cameras for law enforcement agencies, as well as training and technical assistance.

A list of standard police officer equipment includes police guns, shotguns, bulletproof vests, duty belts, handcuffs, Taser guns, batons, mace, magazines, radios, flashlights, knives, and boots. The equipment that our police officers have did not evolve overnight but over time. Equipment was added as a result of law enforcement research, trends, vendors at conferences and yes — due to public scrutiny and national hype — as one constituent emailed the Metro Council. Yet, today they have become the norm.

Most law enforcement equipment has not come about after funding was secured or after all policies and procedures had been established. They were a work in progress, perfected with the help of technology, research and changes in societal standards.

Outfitting Police Department officers with body cameras is a win-win for the department and our citizens.

Chauna Banks

East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council member

Baton Rouge