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DOJ to allow BWCs on federal task forces

Federally deputized officers will now be permitted to wear cameras during arrest operations and search warrant executions

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By Suzie Ziegler

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice in a press release Thursday announced it would permit state, local and tribal officers to use bodycams on federal task forces.

Previously, according to The Washington Post, officers who wore cameras as part of their department’s standard operations were instructed to take them off if they joined federal task forces.

The new policy will allow federally deputized officers to use bodycams in specific circumstances: while making arrests and executing search warrants. Officers may not record undercover operations, witness interviews and investigations related to public corruption or national security, reported the Post.

The change comes after a pilot program launched by the DOJ last October. The program ran from January 2020 through September, during which federal task force officers in several pilot cities began using bodycams.

“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,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “The Department of Justice has no higher priority than ensuring the safety and security of the American people and this policy will continue to help us fulfill that mission.”

The change will affect about 900 federal task forces with 14,000 local, state and tribal officers, DOJ spokesperson Kristina Mastropasqua told the Post.

The new policy “is a significant step towards greater transparency,” Mastropasqua said.

State and local agencies that would like to participate in the DOJ’s task force bodycam program can contact the Special-Agent-in-Charge of the federal agency sponsoring the task force, according to the release.

Officers and agents with the FBI, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives still won’t be using body cameras at this time, reported the Post.

See here for more information.

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