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Obama pledges millions to help police departments

Executive order calls for $75M to purchase 50,000 body cameras for officers over next 3 years

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SAN ANTONIO – President Barack Obama pledged $263 million in federal funding Monday to expand training and resources to local police department's across the country.

That money includes $75 million set aside to help department's buy body worn camera's for their officers.

The move comes in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., as calls increase for all law enforcement officers to be outfitted with personal cameras that can record all interactions with citizens.

The executive order could benefit departments both large and small.

Kirby Police Chief Kevin Bois said he is a big fan of body-worn cameras. He said he likes the transparency they bring to law enforcement.

"The way I like to put it is they promote good behavior in both the officer and the citizen we're dealing with," Bois said. "The camera doesn't lie."

Bois said he originally purchased four cameras for his department at the end of 2013 and immediately saw the benefits.

"It's reduced the number of complaints against officers (and) it has helped us in traffic court," Bois said. "And it has also helped us in one occasion to take disciplinary action to correct the behavior of an officer."

This fall, Bois went back to the Kirby City Council and asked for 12 more cameras, but they only agreed to pay for six. He said the program announced by the White House Monday, which would cover half the cost for body-worn cameras, could help him and other departments expand their collection of cameras.

"I think that will help us to acquire the last half-dozen cameras I need to make sure every officer has a camera," Bois said.

In the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting and riots that followed, there has been a call for all officers nationwide to be outfitted with cameras.

The President's executive order takes a step in that direction by helping to purchase up to 50,000 cameras over the next three years.

While other San Antonio-area police departments are also starting to issue cameras to their officers, Bois believes it's just a matter of time before they're standard issue.

"That's going to be commonplace, just as much as having handcuffs and pepper spray," Bois said.

The remainder of the monetary pledge by Obama would be used for police training, including instructing officers in the responsible use of military equipment, such as armored personnel carriers and weapons issued to them through federal programs.


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