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All police should wear cameras, Hillary Clinton says

Anita Kumar Tribune News Service

WASHINGTON – In response to a wave of racial unrest in the United States, most recently in Baltimore, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday called for a major overhaul of the criminal justice system, including requiring the use of body cameras by all police departments and a reduction in the number of Americans sent to prison.

“We have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America,” Clinton said in her first policy speech as a candidate for president in 2016.

In her somber 30-minute remarks, Clinton described what she called the unfair treatment of black men in America, who are more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes and sentenced to longer prison terms.

“We must urgently begin to rebuild the bonds of trust and respect among Americans,” said Clinton, delivering the keynote address at the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University in New York. “Between police and citizens, yes, but also across society.”

Clinton spoke about recent clashes in Ferguson, Missouri; Charleston, South Carolina; Cleveland, New York City and Baltimore, where a 25-year-old black man, Freddie Gray, died from a spinal injury suffered while he was in police custody.

“What we’ve seen in Baltimore should, indeed does, tear at our soul,” she said. “And, from Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore, the patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable.”

Echoing President Barack Obama’s remarks Tuesday, Clinton praised police officers who have been attacked and criticized protesters who she said are setting back the cause of justice.

“Let’s remember that everyone in every community benefits when there is respect for the law and when everyone in every community is respected by the law,” she said.

Clinton called for changes to probation and drug diversion programs, increased treatment for mental health and drug addiction, and pursuing alternative sentences for lesser offenses, specifically those committed by young people.

Some of her proposals strike at the heart of policies implemented by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who in the 1990s put more officers on the streets, lengthened prison terms and authorized billions of dollars for prison construction, among other things.

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