Cameras on Cops: Ferguson, MO Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Transparency Measure

Ferguson, Missouri was ground zero for the police violence that set a national movement into motion. Nearly three years after the town was set ablaze after 18-year-old Mike Brown was killed by a police officer, substantiative reforms have been approved by the voters in the hopes of preventing deadly tragedies from happening in the future.

71 percent of Ferguson residents voted in favor of putting body cameras on police while only 29 percent opposed on Tuesday. It appeared on the ballot as “Prop. A-Body Cameras” and received overwhelming support. Body cameras on police has been an often-discussed reform in Ferguson for years, but a city-wide policy was never put into effect. The successful ballot measure will make sure that policy changes.

The ballot initiative was worded as a charter amendment, essentially the equivalent of amending the constitution of the city of Ferguson. This makes it impossible for local bureaucrats to overturn these new laws without re-amending the charter and putting another vote to the people. A possible funding source for the body cameras is the proposed merge of the city assessor’s office with the recorder of deeds’ office, which would allegedly save over a million in annual funds, according to a US News report.

“We’ve seen too many cases where reports conflict after violent police interactions. When there is video, we at least have an impartial witness,” organizer Scott Tillman said. Tillman is an activist for the Liberty Initiative Fund, a group that specializes in ballot initiatives and promotes them across the country.

“Video isn’t always perfect, but it does shed light on the interactions between civilians and police,” Tillman said. “For individuals concerned about good policing practices, and individuals concerned about safety for police and civilians, body cameras will help both.”

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III was re-elected in the same election and supports the body cameras measure. If implementation is successful, this localized model for change may spread to other towns in serious need for criminal justice reform.

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