Energy & Environment

Interior Department to require body cameras for all law enforcement


United States Park Police and other Interior Department law enforcement will be required to wear body cameras under a new policy, the department announced Monday. 

The policy is part of a chapter added to the departmental manual, which will also establish standards for downloading and storing the footage as well as the public release of any incidents featuring death or serious injury. 

The manual will also be updated with use-of-force policies for the department, establishing new standards for use of force and requiring the collection and publication of data on such incidents. It also bans the use of neck restraints by personnel except in situations where deadly force is authorized, broadening the existing ban on chokeholds in the department. Several high-profile cases have involved police killing unarmed men with neck holds, including the 2014 death of Eric Garner and the 2020 murder of George Floyd. 

The manual also tightens the use of no-knock entries, allowing them only in cases where agents announcing themselves would create a risk of physical violence. Agents will also be required to get authorization for so-called no-knock warrants from their supervisors and an assistant U.S. attorney, according to the department. No-knock warrants have also been a national controversy since Louisville, Ky., police killed Breonna Taylor in March 2020. 

“Every single day across the country, the Interior Department’s law enforcement officers risk their lives to safeguard our communities, public lands and waters, and critical resources. In reforming policing practices, the Department is helping strengthen the unique connection that law enforcement officers have with the communities that they serve and move the nation forward towards community-focused law enforcement,” Deputy Interior Secretary Tommy Beaudreau said in a statement. 

The announcement comes more than a year after the Park Police’s San Francisco office announced it would require personnel to wear body cameras. U.S. Park Police Chief Pamela Smith, the first Black woman to serve in the position, announced last February that body cameras would eventually be expanded to their entire department. 

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