Senator Scott Reintroduces Bipartisan Body Camera Legislation

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) reintroduced the bipartisan Safer Officers and Safer Citizens Act, which will help provide body-worn cameras to state, local, and tribal police departments to keep law enforcement officers and communities safe. The bill is cosponsored by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).

“Studies across the nation have consistently proven that body cameras can serve our communities well,” Scott said. “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand pictures, and my goal is to work alongside my colleagues in Congress on this legislation, in efforts to keep both police officers and the communities they serve safe. While body cameras might not be a panacea, they are certainly an important part of that equation. “

The Safer Officers and Safer Citizens Act authorizes a new grant program at the U.S. Department of Justice that will allow departments who have developed policies and procedures regarding body-worn cameras to apply for funds to aid in the purchase and initial setup costs of their body-worn camera program.

The bill fully offsets funding for the new grant program, which totals $100 million a year from fiscal years 2018-2022. The bill is paid for by directing the Office of Management and Budget to save up to $500 million through the disposal of underutilized and utilized federal properties.

Preferential consideration will be given to departments whose policies regarding body-worn cameras meet the following criteria

A comprehensive policy developed in consultation with criminal justice experts and community members

Contains policies and procedures and addressing deployment, video capture, viewing, use, release, storage, retention, the effect on community-police interactions, and audits and controls

Supported by a comprehensive communication and education campaign

Informed by the best practices on body-worn cameras developed by the DOJ

Committed to submitting data for the purposes of studying the effectiveness of body-worn cameras to increase safety for both law enforcement officers and citizens

Over the past two years, Senator Scott has worked with more than a dozen groups, including law enforcement associations, civil rights organizations and privacy advocates to craft legislation that would best help to keep our officers and communities safe.