After UVA student’s arrest, lawmakers say police need body cams

While some localities have made the move to have some of their officers wear body cameras, they are not required to just yet.

Lawmakers introduced several bills in the last General Assembly session aiming at making body cameras a requirement, but those bills ultimately failed as there was no way to pay for them.

“It’s certainly an idea whose time has come and we’re going to figure out a way to pay for it,” said Senator Donald McEachin.

Senator McEachin is one of the lawmakers who believes every officer in Virginia should be wearing a body camera, not only to protect citizens, but the officers themselves.

“The presence of a camera calms everybody down. It calms the police officer down, it calms the citizen down,” said McEachin.

Cell phone video shows a bloody University of Virginia student, Martese Johnson, being held down by police on the sidewalk in Charlottesville.

“It does not show what happened afterwards, it does not show what happened beforehand and somebody had to make the decision to turn the video on or not,” said legal expert Russ Stone.

8News watched the video. Stone says while it’s always helpful to have some video, it can make cases more difficult when only part of an incident is caught on camera.

“We don’t know what it is that provoked the officers to take him to the ground in the fashion that they did and that’s a real question that is going to have to be answered in court,” said Stone.

Meanwhile, McEachin says body cameras are only part of the issue.

“What we really have to do in this particular instance, is revisit the whole notion of the ABC police having arrest powers over regular people,” he said.

Senator McEachin says he does plan on drafting a bill that would limit the amount of power an ABC agent has before the next session.

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