My name is Courtney Curtis. I’m a native of Ferguson, Missouri. I’ve spent my whole life in this community. Now, I am fortunate enough to represent our community in the State Legislature.
But I’m still a young black man who has encountered problems with the police. Five years ago, while waiting for a college friend of mine in his gated community in Kansas City, I was handcuffed, had my car searched against my will and was almost arrested. My crime? Sitting on the back of my car, working on my business plan, while waiting for a friend. I filed a complaint. No action was ever taken.
Fast-forward five years. I was pulled over for supposedly having a broken tail light. After the police officer runs my ID, he comes back and says the tail light is back on. Must have been a short, he says. Three days later, an unarmed Mike Brown was killed in the street. One incident brushed under the rug, another goes horribly wrong.
The killing of Michael Brown made me sick. But what keeps me up at night is that it will happen again unless we do something. We can’t bring Michael Brown back – but we can make sure his death is not in vain. It is up to us to do something.
That's why I'm asking for the St. Louis County Police Department, the St. Louis City Police Department and the Ferguson Police Department to require police officers to wear cameras. We're simultaneously going to file legislation requiring police officers all across Missouri to wear cameras. Sign this petition to support our cause and help get these bills passed.
Attaching cameras to the police officers' uniforms would come with many benefits. The cameras would cost a few hundreds dollars each and would:
- Provide greater transparency and a constant third party witness.
- Enhance police and citizen motivation to act lawfully and truthfully.
- Lessen the chance of deadly force being used by police.
- Increase citizen's trust of his/her police force thanks to recorded actions.
Police departments are using or testing on-body cameras and they're reportedly reducing police misconduct. When the Rialto Police Department in California adopted cameras, the number of complaints filed against officers fell by 88 percent and the use of force by officers fell by almost 60 percent.
There are still so many things unknown about Michael Brown’s death it’s astonishing. And still more change is needed for a true eradication of the types of problems that led to Michael’s death. But one thing we can control and do right now is to create accountability – for both police and citizens – with a digital record of what happens when a police officer interacts with a citizen. Vest cameras won’t solve all of our problems – but they will be a good start – and will create an accurate record of what happens.
The trust between my community, others and law enforcement is broken. Until all police departments have cameras in place, the trust will continue to be broken. Let's join together and ask for that trust to be restored with this first step.
Councilwoman Erby and I are asking for your signature on this petition so that we can continue to push for Ferguson, St. Louis County and St. Louis City police to adopt cameras, then start the process of enacting body camera legislation in Missouri.