Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois
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Rush Introduces The "Laquan McDonald Camera Act of 2017" Which Restricts Federal Funds From Law Enforcement Agencies That Fail to Enforce Body Camera and Dash Cam Policies

Feb 22, 2017
Press Release

CHICAGO — In an effort to bring more accountability to police departments across the country U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) has introduced H.R. 1213, the “Laquan McDonald Camera Act of 2017” which requires, as a condition on the receipt of federal funds, that law enforcement agencies o have in effect a policy regarding the use of body-worn and dashboard cameras.

The legislation is named for a 17-year-old youth whose October 2014 killing by a Chicago police officer stunned the city and opened a Pandora’s Box of questions about the training and policies of the Chicago Police Department (CPD). Dashboard cameras on the night of the incident were disabled or not working properly. The bill seeks to penalize any law enforcement agency not in compliance by stripping them of 10 percent of federal funding unless certification is provided to the U.S. Attorney General that policies are in place and being enforced.

“This legislation seeks to restore some of the public’s trust in law enforcement at time when trust is at an all-time low. There has been a wave of questionable police shootings that resulted in the deaths of unarmed citizens — or people who appeared to be of no threat at the time of the encounter,” said Rush. “Cases, such as Laquan McDonald, Mike Brown, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are brutal illustrations on why we need a clear documentation of facts when citizen-encounters with police turn deadly.

“What’s the point of having body-cams or dashboard cameras if a cop fails to turn them on or the volume is off,” Rush said. “Having clear, enforceable policies protects both citizens and law enforcement officers when these incidents escalate.”

Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division released a scathing investigative report on the Chicago Police Department. It found reasonable cause to believe that CPD engages in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Department found that CPD officers’ practices unnecessarily endanger themselves and result in unnecessary and avoidable uses of force. The pattern or practice results from systemic deficiencies in training and accountability, including the failure to train officers in de-escalation and the failure to conduct meaningful investigations of uses of force.

To be in compliance with the “Laquan McDonald Camera Act,” a State shall require each law enforcement agency of that State and of a unit of a local government of that State to have in effect a policy requiring and prescribing the conditions for the use of body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras by law enforcement officers of that agency, and to establish procedures providing for the effective enforcement of that policy.

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