• City leaders hope body cameras will protect police, public

    By: Trish Williford


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte city leaders hope new body cameras will help protect both Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers and the public.

    Channel 9 learned the city is just months away from getting them on many officers.

    READ: NC NAACP letter urging support of reform in law enforcement practices

    This week, President Barack Obama called for $263 million to provide police departments around the country with body cameras.

    Right now, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department only has a $500,000 in the budget to buy them.

    Channel 9 was told that will only purchase up to 125 cameras for a department of 1,800 officers.

    The department will soon begin the bidding process to find a vendor.

    Officers must undergo several months of training before wearing the cameras and by the middle of 2015 those cameras are expected to be in operation.

    But leaders say the body cameras aren’t enough.

    “I think the cameras are only part of the solution. They provide some video evidence of interaction between officers and the public but we’re also investing in training,” said City Councilman Michael Barnes.

    “Anybody who knows they’re being watched, usually, they’re more apprehensive about what they’re going to do,” said Kojo Nantambu, with Charlotte’s NAACP.

    The North Carolina NAACP is calling for big changes from local police in the wake of Eric Garner's death and the death of Michael Brown in Missouri.

    A letter the organization released Thursday stated, "We demand change in communities where lives have been tragically lost due to excessive force by police."

    The letter goes on to cite several cases, including two in North Carolina.

    The first involved a CMPD officer. Randall Kerrick is accused of shooting and killing Jonathan Ferrell last year. Ferrell was unarmed and seeking help after a car accident.

    The second was from Durham. Also last year, a man shot himself while he was in the back of a police cruiser.

    The letter goes on to outline eight changes the NAACP is recommending. They include:

    -Having police officers wear body cameras to record every encounter
    -Dash cams in every police vehicle
    -Mandatory training on racial bias and police use of force

    Monday, the NAACP will ask the council that all 1,800 officers get equipped with body cameras.

    The group will also stress the need for a stronger citizens review board and to implement an anti-racial profiling law.

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