Helping local police departments pay for body cameras if they become mandatory, and keeping criminal defendants from leaving court-ordered treatment programs too early is the aim of legislation sponsored by Senator Tim Bivins.
“Increasingly, the media report violent incidents by police and violent incidents against police, throughout the United States. Our society must address the underlying factors behind cases like the death of the Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; the two officers who were ambushed and killed in Brooklyn, New York; and the most recent police shooting of a civilian in Madison, Wisconsin,” said Senator Bivins, a former Lee County Sheriff. “However, we can make practical changes now that can be easily implemented to protect everyone involved in our legal system.”
The 45th District Senator said requiring police offices to wear body cameras has been discussed as a possible solution, as they would provide an objective record of events.
“There are measures being floated out there right now to mandate body cams for police officers, as a way to protect both citizens and officers,” Senator Bivins said. “Such a requirement would mean more costs for local governments so my legislation provides law enforcement agencies with a funding source in the event that officer-worn body cameras are mandated by state law this year.”
Senate Bill 710 would allow grants from the state’s existing Law Enforcement Camera Grant Fund to be used to purchase and support use of video cameras (including body-worn cameras) for law enforcement and for training officers.
Senator Bivins is also sponsoring a bill that helps the Department of Human Services better assess the type and length of court-ordered treatment programs for criminal defendants.
Senate Bill 1938 requires the circuit court clerk to send to the Department of Human Services, or treatment agency/institution acting on its behalf, a fitness report prepared by a forensic examiner for the court.
If the court finds that the defendant is still unfit, the court must attach the report (prepared by a licensed physician, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist) to the court order remanding the person for further treatment. The clinical information in the report that assisted the court to find that the defendant is still unfit could be helpful to the Department in determining ongoing treatment.
Both Senate Bill 710 and Senate Bill 1938 have been assigned to the Senate Criminal Law Committee for consideration.