Tim Scott in 2011
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Tim Scott in 2011
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In the wake of seemingly endless national stories about police brutality, an effort to fund and support police body cameras is making its way through a Republican-controlled Congress. And a Republican senator, Tim Scott of South Carolina, is leading the charge.  

On Tuesday the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism held a hearing on body cameras at Scott’s request. It was the first hearing on the issue in Congress, and it is expected to be followed by substantive action, likely in the form of funding.  

"What we've done is met with a dozen groups on body cameras, and we've decided to craft our legislation to their expertise," said Scott, who focused on funding body cameras after shocking video surfaced of a North Charleston, S.C., man, Walter Scott, being shot in the back in April as he ran away from a police officer. South Carolina's other senator, Republican Lindsey Graham, led the hearings on Tuesday.

Scott has made the point that he wanted to listen to stakeholders on the issue before writing legislation. Many law-enforcement agencies are funding their body-camera initiatives themselves. "What we've seen is a number of localities adopting their own policies regarding body cameras and moving forward with funding," Scott told The Root.

"We have experts around the country from California to South Carolina where we see folks moving in that direction," he continued. "I think the cost is going down by the second. The DOJ grant of $20 million, I think, is a step in the right direction. But trying to figure out the funding before you understand 'who, where, when' would be a bit premature. We need to appreciate the magnitude of what we're asking."

The Root asked the senator whether he knew of any law-enforcement opposition to the idea of police body cameras. Scott said that he had not come across any but added, "What they have mentioned are concerns about data retention and FOIA, and when do you turn it on and off, and the possibilities if you forget to do something. Those are legitimate concerns. Our objective is that we understand and appreciate all the complexities and challenges."

Other senators who are pursuing legislation regarding police body cameras include Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). Scott also mentioned that he has gotten positive signals from Republican colleagues on the House side regarding this issue. That type of agreement as legislation moves through Congress would represent a rare moment of harmony in a gridlocked Congress.

Lauren Victoria Burke is a Washington, D.C.-based political reporter who writes the Crew of 42 blog. She appears regularly on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin on TV One. Follow her on Twitter


Share This Story

Get our newsletter