TOPEKA (KSNT) — Law enforcement officers throughout Kansas may soon be required to wear body cameras.
State senators heard a proposal to require those cameras on Thursday, but a big question is who will pay for them.
“You know, it’s almost like we’re sort of walking on pins and needles as African Americans, especially as black men,” said Ben Scott of the NAACP.
That’s why activists are pushing for a bill to require all law enforcement officers to wear a body camera on patrol.
“This is America, and we should feel like we have the same rights that everyone else does,” said Scott.
Supporters believe the measure would increase public confidence in officers across the board.
“If there is an incident where there is an abuse, it would be no longer a he said, she said, there would be evidence there the community and law enforcement could use,” said Rep. Gail Finney, (D) of Wichita.
The Topeka Police Department says all of their officers already wear body cameras, so the bill wouldn’t affect them, but for smaller departments the cost for cameras, and storage of footage, could be difficult to manage.
Even the Kansas Highway Patrol says they have concerns.
The Highway Patrol is in the final phase of implementing a brand new video system in all of their patrol cars.
They say those cameras accomplish the same basic goal, and without funding from the state to pay for new body cameras, they worry the current technology will be a waste.
“Those are serious concerns because we just put forth that money so where do we come up with that without some kind of a fiscal enhancement from the legislature?” said Scott Harrington of the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Advocates don’t deny, staying on budget is important, but they believe people should matter more.
“I think something this nature is far more important to people that have been victimized by a lot of these things, than the cost it’s going to take to store and so forth,” said Scott.
Next week critics of the proposal will voice their concerns. Much of it is expected to come from small police departments who don’t have the money for the cameras.