The Georgia chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement today in response to reports that “Waycross police opened fire on at least two juveniles during a traffic stop Saturday morning.” At the time of the traffic stop, “inside the car were five minors, ages 9, 12, 14, 15 and 16,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. Reports indicate that the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, which has launched an investigation into the shooting, “has said that there is no video that captured the incident.”
“No person in America – let alone a child – should have to fear for their lives at a routine traffic stop,” said Sharmaine Brown, a volunteer with Georgia Moms Demand Action. “These children and teens, their families, and our whole community deserve a thorough, transparent investigation.”
“The research is clear – body-worn cameras save lives and help improve transparency in our police departments,” said Jacqueline Azah, a volunteer with Students Demand Action at Clark Atlanta University. “Every police officer in Georgia should wear one, so we can have thorough, transparent investigations after police shootings and prevent them from happening in the first place.”
A growing collection of research largely demonstrates that body-worn cameras are effective in strengthening community perceptions of the police and reducing use-of-force incidents and complaints–especially if there is clear policy stating when cameras must be turned on.
Meaningful use of force policies encourage de-escalation, utilize early intervention systems, and ensure that officers who act in a manner that is criminally negligent can be held accountable. Use of force policies can ensure that laws help advance safety and promote trust in the police.
Research suggests that implementing specific use-of-force policies can save lives. One 2016 study of 91 large police departments found adoption of use-of-force reform policies—exhaustion of other means prior to shooting, bans on chokeholds and strangleholds, use-of-force continuum, de-escalation, duty to intervene, restrictions on shootings at moving vehicles, and warning before shooting—was associated with fewer people killed by police.
Black people in the United States are far more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts, and data from Mapping Police Violence shows that most people killed by police are killed with guns. Black Americans are shot and killed by police at three times the rate of white Americans.