Illinois lawmakers push plan for police body cameras

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SPRINGFIELD — Two Illinois lawmakers on Thursday pushed for a hike in traffic and other fines to raise money for police body cameras and dashboard cameras in the wake of the fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, a Peoria Democrat, introduced a bill allowing police departments to apply for grants to purchase either body cameras or video recording equipment for squad cars. The grants would be funded by an additional $6 surcharge on fines for criminal or traffic offense convictions, which she estimates would bring in $4 million to $6 million annually.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson might be clearer if the officer had worn a camera, Gordon-Booth said. Demands for police use of body cameras have increased around the country since the shooting. Some Ferguson officers began wearing them last week.

Sen. Bill Haine, an Alton Democrat who also is sponsoring the bill, said the legislation will “remove controversies and remove doubt on what’s going on with a lawful arrest.”

Several law enforcement groups attended the news conference in support of the bill, including the Illinois Sherriff’s Association, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police and the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association. So did the NAACP.

Brian Towne, president of the state’s attorney’s association, said the bill would help in the review of evidence in issuing charges and in avoiding frivolous lawsuits.

KERRY LESTER, Associated Press

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