Hillary Clinton to call for mandatory police body cams

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks with CNN's Christiane Amanpour during a CNN Town Hall.

New York (CNN) Hillary Clinton will call for every police department in the country to use body cameras to “increase transparency and accountability,” as she pushes for broad criminal justice reform during a speech in New York on Wednesday, an aide said.

Clinton will react publicly and in person for the first time (she reacted on Twitter on Monday) to the death of Freddie Gray and the Baltimore riots, unveiling some of her first policy proposals since launching her campaign two weeks ago, when she delivers the keynote address at the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University later Wednesday morning.

“It is heartbreaking,” Clinton said Tuesday night to donors at an off camera Manhattan fundraiser. “The tragic death of another young African-American man. The injuries to police officers. The burning of peoples’ homes and small businesses. We have to restore order and security. But then we have to take a hard look as to what we need to do to reform our system.”

Among Clinton’s prescriptions: probation reform, bolstering treatment for mental health and drug addiction and looking at alternative sentences for lesser offenses, specifically those committed by young people.

Clinton, who has struck a decidedly populist tone in the initial days of her campaign as she tries to appeal to liberal Democrats, is also expected to delve into the issue of race.

She will discuss “the hard truth and fundamental unfairness in our country that today African American men are far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes and sentenced to longer prison terms,” the aide said.

Gray was detained after running away from police for no apparent reason. He was arrested, police said, when they found he was carrying a knife.

Clinton’s stance on criminal justice has changed with the times. As first lady, she lobbied for her husband’s 1994 crime bill, parts of which are now viewed as counterproductive to reducing crime.

The measure significantly built up police forces across the country, funded prisons to increase capacity and put in place tougher sentences, including for some young offenders.

In 2007 in Iowa, during Clinton’s first run for president, she acknowledged an “unacceptable increase in incarceration across the board,” and has since joined the bipartisan ranks of those who support changes to mandatory minimum prison terms for certain crimes, an effort heralded by President Barack Obama in his second term.

Just Monday, in a foreword to a compilation of criminal justice reform prescriptions published by the Brennan Center for Justice, President Bill Clinton admitted the effects of the law, which he championed as he was shifting to the right in the face of a Republican-led congress and at a time that being tough on crime was popular.

“Our nation has too many people in prison and for too long – we have overshot the mark,” Clinton writes, but also defended much of the effort. “So many of these laws worked well, especially those that put more police on the streets.”

The book, “Solutions: America’s Leaders Speak Out on Criminal Justice,” includes a chapter by Hillary Clinton. Proving what a crowded political space the issue is, it’s sandwiched in between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s proposals, the former a potential Republican presidential candidate and the other already in the race.

Clinton appears to spell out the parameters for some of her expected policy proposals in the book, calling for “a true national debate about how to reduce our current prison population while keeping our communities safe,” and a unified effort “to keep more nonviolent drug offenders out of prison … to ensure that we don’t create another ‘incarceration generation.'”

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15 comments

  • "peety"

    good start. How bout a “One strike you are out” rule as well.

    The Baltimore Sun conducted an in-depth investigation of police corruption last year, finding that over the course of the last four years, more than 100 people in Baltimore have won court judgments or settlements totaling more than $5.7 million related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations.

    As we saw in Ferguson, as we saw in Pasco. When you settle to protect your own, it rarely ends well.

    • tootietuttle

      great idea…shouldn’t all people have body cams, or better yet, institute cameras on all streets and businesses??…we should have “one strike and your out” policy as well to all people, black or policeman…People like Michael Brown and Freddy Gray would have been off the street then…try not to drown yourself in your statistics Peety…you seem to be living the liberal dream of quarterbacking life from your b***hole.

      • "peety"

        The police cannot function without trust from the community. They have lost the trust. Do you have a better way to get it back?

        • tootietuttle

          the FAR majority of people haven’t lost faith in the police. I’m surprised you haven’t got a stupid stat to correct yourself on this. Here’s another stat Peety…the majority of people have lost faith in Obama, are you as a liberal going to address the President?

      • dg54321

        I’m actually not understanding where you’re coming from here. Police have no expectation of privacy on the job. Private individuals have privacy in their daily lives protected by the Constitution. Police unfortunately do have a problem with certain individuals getting away with breaking the law and enforcing their opinion, instead of the actual law. Body cams should work for everybody involved, except the criminal, whether wearing a badge or a suspect, in these cases.

  • Hello Murica

    You go, Shrillary! Pander to the audience by echoing sentiments the public has been demanding for a while now. Do you have an original thought in that Alzheimer’s-riddled brain of yours?

    • "peety"

      yes the public wants it. But that doesn’t mean the GOP does. In Florida, home of two GOP candidates, the GOP is suing to block body cameras.

  • dg54321

    This might be the very first time I’ve agreed with Hillary, on anything. Not that she’s bringing this up as a new idea, instead of just jumping on the bandwagon because it’s politically expedient.

    Now if we could just have had Hillary wearing one, we could have video evidence of her deleting her home email server that should have never stored government data in the first place.

  • Jimbob

    Listen to Hillary talk about transparency and accountability. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Either way Clinton, this is a matter for the states to decide. Not the federal government. You professional crook politicians have trampled enough of our states’ rights.