In 2014, the White House convened a "Task Force on 21st-Century Policing" in the wake of the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and others at the hands of police, and the rift those killings exposed between some police departments in America and the communities they police. In March 2015, the task force put out an "interim report" — including 63 recommendations (and even more "action items") about possible reforms to policing that local governments, police departments, and the federal government could make.
But the report made clear that there's no single answer to improving police-community relations, and that some proposed policing reforms might be harder than they look.
In particular, the task force surprised some media observers by not recommending that police be required to wear body cameras. The report acknowledged that body cameras can be tremendously important — but stressed that cameras raise other questions about privacy, transparency, and who controls the footage that communities are going to have to solve on their own.
To understand why body cameras for police are so important — and some of the issues they raise — here's Vox's video on body cameras and recording police:
The White House report might be disappointing to people who are eager to find an easy technological solution to the problem of police-community relations. But it's true. The good news is that some places, like Seattle, are already taking the next step, and inviting community members to come up with ideas for how to make sure body cameras don't end up being used against civilians.
Many of the task force's other recommendations were familiar to anyone who's familiar with research on policing, or, for that matter, to Vox readers: it's not surprising that the task force called for better data on officer-involved shootings, or for independent prosecutors when officers kill civilians. It's not clear how much of this the federal govermment (much less local police forces) will actually implement. But if nothing else, it's a reminder that police-community relations are too complicated to be solved with a single gadget.