White House urges body cameras for police after Ferguson

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The White House is pushing a multi-million-dollar program to encourage local law enforcement agencies to use body cameras, on the heels of the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

At the same time, President Obama is not seeking to pull back federal programs that provide military-style equipment to local law enforcement.

The administration revealed details of a White House review after Obama met with members of his Cabinet about the situation. The president is pushing a three-year, $263 million program to expand training and resources for local police departments -- the biggest component would be a $75 million fund during that period to help purchase 50,000 body cameras.

The proposed Body Worn Camera Partnership Program would give a 50 percent match to state and local police forces that purchase small, lapel-mounted cameras to record police on the job. The White House has said the cameras could help bridge mistrust between law enforcement and the public.

Obama's Cabinet meeting also focused on his administration's review of federal programs that provide military-style equipment to law enforcement agencies.

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    The White House review found a "lack of consistency" in how these programs are structured. But on a conference call, senior administration officials offered no explicit position on the program.

    Senior administration officials said that five federal agencies have programs to supply the equipment that are authorized by Congress, but Obama's focus is not supporting legislation to repeal them but to make sure there are standards to make sure the equipment is used safely.

    Obama's staff is drafting an executive order that will require federal agencies that run the programs to work with law enforcement and civil rights and civil liberties organizations to recommend changes.

    The president was making the announcement Monday from the White House during a series of meetings with his Cabinet, civil rights leaders, law enforcement officials and others. At least for now, Obama is staying away from Ferguson in the wake of a racially charged uproar over a grand jury's decision last week not to charge the police offer who fatally shot unarmed Michael Brown.

    Demands for police to wear the cameras have increased across the country since Brown's death. Some officers in the St. Louis suburb have since started wearing the cameras, and the New York Police department became the largest department in the U.S. to adopt the technology when it launched a pilot program in early September.

    A report from the Justice Department, which had been in the works before the Ferguson shooting, said there's evidence both police and civilians behave better when they know there are cameras around. The report also cites how footage from the cameras can be used to train officers.

    Obama also plans to sign an executive order to create a Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which will include law enforcement and community leaders. The purpose would be to examine how to reduce crime while maintaining public trust through measures like increased police training. The task force is being co-chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and Laurie Robinson, a professor at George Mason University and former assistant attorney general at the Justice Department.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.