In Ferguson, Mo., volunteers for a local Copwatch group have raised $7,600 from nearly 200 donors on gofundme.com to purchase and distribute 110 cameras for help them watch the police, and 100 more arrived last week, says the Los Angeles Times. “Now, when the police harass you or target somebody, we can step in and record it,” said local resident Ramona Williams. Much of the conflict in Ferguson, including recent protesters’ clashes with police, has been recorded by the media and citizen journalists. They have caught at least one police officer on camera using an assault rifle to threaten a protester; he was suspended. Some protesters have petitioned for passage of a “Mike Brown Law” that would require police to wear body cameras at all times during their patrols.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his department received 50 donated body cameras, just as Los Angeles police officers and sheriff’s deputies are trying the cameras through pilot programs. Some activists are skeptical of such cameras. Footage can be tough to obtain and may be incomplete if officers turn their cameras off, as one Ferguson officer did on Sept. 27 shortly before he was shot in the arm while pursuing a burglary suspect. The original Copwatch was started by Berkeley residents in 1990, and has since spread to dozens of cities, including Denver, Los Angeles, New York and Phoenix, driven in part by concerns about increased police brutality.