Trending Topics

US Marshals agree to loosen bodycam rules amid push from police chiefs

Previously, local police assigned to federal task forces were not allowed to release videos of arrests


AP File Photo

By Suzie Ziegler

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice will allow local police assigned to federal fugitive task forces to release body camera video of police shootings, reported NBC News. It’s a major swing from an existing policy that barred local agencies from releasing the videos. Federal officers do not currently wear body cameras.

A July 12 memo obtained by NBC News shows that the Marshals will now allow local police to share bodycam video if an officer kills or seriously injures a person while working with federal agents.

“The goal is to improve transparency with the public as well as to work to meet the needs of our partner agencies who help make our federal task forces possible,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kristina Mastropasqua told NBC News.

The change only applies to U.S. Marshals Service task forces, according to the report.

“The U.S. Marshals have done the right thing in embracing the fact that this is not something that we want — this is something that we are demanding,” said Orlando, Florida, Police Chief Orlando Rolón to NBC News. Rolón began to pull his officers off the U.S. Marshals Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force late last year.

An increasing number of police departments in recent years have begun removing their officers from Marshals task forces over the bodycam ban, NBC News reported. In October, a Trump-era policy allowed local officers on the task forces to wear bodycams when making “planned” arrests. However, the Marshals still owned the bodycam footage, meaning local police departments could not share the video with the public.

“You would need prior approval in all circumstances by the federal government to release video,” said Ashan Benedict, the executive assistant chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., to NBC News. “It was too restrictive.”

According to NBC News, the DOJ is working toward requiring federal agents to wear body cameras during arrests, although details are still being finalized.

NEXT: How to buy body-worn cameras (eBook)