Nearly one year after Michael Brown was shot and killed by former police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, a series of protests against police brutality have led to 40 new police reform measures being passed in 24 states, which is just a fraction of all of the measures that have been proposed.
An analysis conducted by the Associated Press found that while “legislators in almost every state have proposed changes to the way police interact with the public,” the measures that have been passed address issues such as the body cameras officers wear, how officers are trained concerning racial bias, independent investigations into police use of force and military equipment used by local police departments.
In addition to protests in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown in Aug. 2014, which were met with a militarized police force, protests have erupted over police brutality in several cities such as New York where Eric Garner was choked to death by a police officer, and Baltimore where Freddie Gray died after suffering a severe spinal injury while in police custody.
The Associated Press reported that despite the measures that have passed, “far more proposals have stalled or failed,” and only a few states have changed laws concerning “when police are justified to use deadly force.”
The most popular measures, which surround the use of body cameras worn by police officers, were passed in sixteen states according to the analysis. Body cameras have played a vital part in revealing the accurate set of events in cases such as the recent shooting of Samuel DuBose, in which the body camera former officer Ray Tensing was wearing revealed that he was lying about only shooting DuBose after he was “dragged” down the street by DuBose’s car.
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The report noted that Colorado, Connecticut and Illinois were the only three states to pass “comprehensive packages of legislation encouraging body cameras, boosting police training on such things as racial biases and requiring independent investigations when police shoot people,” and that Colorado and Connecticut were among several states that “bolstered citizen rights to take videos of police.”
Investigative journalist Ben Swann addressed the root of police militarization in an episode of Truth in Media in Dec. 2014. Swann noted that while local police departments having access to military equipment was a problem, a larger problem existed surrounding the use of military tactics by police officers.