DOJ shifts, will allow local police to wear body cameras during operations with federal agents

Greg Nash

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Thursday that it will allow officers from local police departments to wear body cameras when assisting federal task forces.

The decision ends a ban on the use of body cameras by local police participating in joint efforts with such federal tasks forces. Federal officers will still not be allowed to wear body cameras, which have become more common to provide transparency on police actions. 

The DOJ says it came to this decision after a pilot program launched last October.

“After spending a substantial amount of time examining this issue, assessing the results of the pilot program, and taking into account the interests and priorities of all the law enforcement agencies involved, I am pleased to announce that the department will permit the use of body-worn cameras on our federal task forces in specific circumstances,” Attorney General William Barr said in a press release announcing the change. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that the change will allow officers to wear cameras during some arrests and while enforcing search warrants.

The pilot program had been used with police departments from Houston; Detroit; Wichita, Kan.; Salt Lake City; and Park City, Utah.

The federal police agencies who would be partnering with local forces would include the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Any recordings made during federal task force operations will be considered federal records, the department said when further explaining the new policy. Due to this, many recordings made by officers when assisting federal agents will be deemed privileged and unavailable to the public.

Calls for police to wear body cameras have increased as national attention has focused on shootings of Black and Hispanic people by police. Protests after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis over the summer increased momentum for police reforms, including calls for body cameras.

Tags body cam Department of Justice Police William Barr
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