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Tag: Body cameras

Some Homeland Security Agents to Begin Wearing Body Cams

Photo: Shutterstock

By Steve Neavling

Dozens of Homeland Security agents will begin wearing body cams as part of a six-month pilot program. 

The cameras will be worn by 55 Homeland Security Investigations agents in Houston, Newark, New Jersey and New York, the Associated Press reports.

The idea is to examine the cost and benefits of the technology. 

The pilot is expected to be expanded to include officers involved in immigration enforcement arrests. 

While many local and state law enforcement wear body cameras, federal agents have not. 

ATF agents in Phoenix and Detroit began wearing body cams in September.

In August, CBP announced that about a third of Border Patrol agents will wear body cameras by the end of this year.

In June, the Justice Department’s Inspector General said federal law enforcement agencies were “generally unprepared” to adopt the widespread use of body cameras.

In the last decade, the Justice Department issued $150 million in grants for camera programs, but none of that money went to the ATF, FBI, DEA, or U.S. Marshals Service. 

CBP to Begin Outfitting Border Patrol Agents with Body Cameras

Photo: Shutterstock

About a third of Border Patrol agents will wear body cameras by the end of the year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday

The agency already began outfitting agents with body cameras, which are roughly the size of a deck of playing cards.

“Our agents and officers serve the public and protect our borders every day with great skill and professionalism,” Troy Miller, CBP Acting Commissioner, said. “Providing them with state-of-the-art technology and tools like body-worn cameras will support their work and provide greater transparency into interactions between CBP officers and agents and the public.”

About 6,000 of the agency’s 20,000 agents will have body cameras by the end of 2021. Agents along the southwest and northern borders will be the first to receive cameras. 

After this year, the plan is to add body cameras to more agents. 

The idea is to “strengthen CBP’s ability to document and review enforcement encounters and use of force incidents, and to investigate allegations of misconduct on the part of our personnel,” the agency said in a news release.

The announcement comes a month after the Justice department said that federal agents serving arrest warrants or executing raids will soon be required to wear body cameras. The new policy applies to the FBI, ATF and U.S. Marshals.

Federal Law Enforcement Agencies ‘Unprepared’ for Body Cameras, IG Says

Body cams, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

Federal law enforcement agencies are “generally unprepared “ to adopt the widespread use of body cameras, according to a new report from the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

The report comes after the Justice Department said earlier this month that it would begin requiring federal agents to wear body cameras while executing raids and serving arrest warrants.

In the last decade, the Justice Department issued $150 million in grants for camera programs, but none of that money went to the ATF, FBI, DEA, or U.S. Marshals Service. 

“Given the demonstrated benefits of BWC programs, their widespread use by law enforcement agencies across the country, the Components’ substantial involvement in street-level enforcement activity, the public’s increasing expectation that objective video evidence be available in law enforcement interactions with the public—especially those involving use of force—and recent legislation introduced by Congress that would require federal LEOs to use BWCs, we believe that the DOJ should carefully reassess its lack of BWC programs for DOJ LEOs and pursue the actions necessary to prepare for program implementation,” the report says.

In March, the U.S. House approved the Federal Police Camera and Accountability Act, which requires federal law enforcement to wear body cameras. 

3 Sheriff’s Departments Removed Deputies from U.S. Marshals Task Force over Body Cam Policy

U.S. Marshals prepare to make an arrest. (Stock photo via USMS)

By Steve Neavling

Three county sheriff’s departments in Minnesota are removing deputies from a U.S. Marshals task force until they are allowed to wear body cameras. 

The move by Ramsey, Anoka and Hennepin counties comes after two sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a Black man last week while serving on a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force. There was no video footage of the shooting because the deputies had been prevented from wearing body cameras, despite a change in Justice Department policy in October to allow local law enforcement to wear cameras. 

Ramsey County became the latest sheriff department to pull deputies from the U.S. Marshal’s North Star Fugitive Task Force until cameras are allowed. 

“Neither the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office nor the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office was offered the opportunity to use body cameras until last Friday in the wake of Winston Smith’s death,” Sheriff Fletcher said in a statement issued to KARE 11.

In a new Justice Department memo, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said earlier this week that ATF, FBI and U.S. Marshals agents will soon be required to wear body cameras.

DOJ to Allow Local, State Police to Wear Body Cameras During Task Force Arrests

Body cams, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department has reversed its ban on body cameras, saying state and local law enforcement may wear the devices during some joint operations with federal law enforcement. 

The move comes after some police officials have said the ban violates their public accountability policies. The DOJ had worried body cams would reveal the identities of undercover agents.

Under the change announced Thursday, federally deputized officers may activate body cams while serving arrest warrants or making other planned arrest operations while on a federal task force. 

“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 P. Barr said in a statement.  “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 Justice Department’s task forces include the ATF, DEA, FBI and U.S. Marshals Service. 

The task forces launched a pilot in January 2020 to allow local police to use body cams. Those include the Houston Police Department, Detroit Police Department, Wichita Police Department, Salt Lake City Police Department and Park City Police Department. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray spoke in favor of the ban reversal. 

“The FBI values the collaborative efforts of our state, local, and tribal partners, as they are integral to the success of our common mission to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution,” Wray said in a statement. “We hope this program will enable us to further expand these efforts and build upon deep-rooted relationships within our communities.”

Justice Department to Award More Than $20M for Body Cameras for Police

Body cams, via Wikipedia

Body cams, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

After the rash of police shootings of black men across country, the Justice Department plans to award more than $20 million to law enforcement agencies to use or enhance body cameras.   

Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Monday, saying the money will be awarded to 106 state, city, tribal and municipal law enforcement agencies, the Chicago Tribune reports. 

“Of course, even as we strive to support local leaders and our law enforcement partners in their work to protect their communities, we are mindful — we know, we see every day — that effective public safety requires more than arrests and prosecutions,” Lynch said. “Because It also requires winning, and keeping, the trust and the confidence of the citizens we serve.”

Lynch alluded to the police shootings to raise the importance of body cameras footage.

“There is no doubt that these are challenging times for law enforcement and communities alike,” Lynch said. “Where the relationship of trust has frayed and frankly broken, we see the mistrust within the community; we also see the underlying fear within many of our friends and neighbors that when they are threatened by violence, they will have no one to call.”

The Hill: How Body Cameras on Border Patrol Agents Could Save Lives

Border Patrol agents reads the Miranda rights to a Mexican national arrested for transporting drugs.By Pedro Rios
The Hill

In 2010, Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, a husband and father of five, was handcuffed, tortured and brutally beaten to death by 12 Border Patrol agents at the San Ysidro border crossing in California. The horrifying incident witnessed by dozens of people exposed a systemic problem with the nation’s largest law enforcement agency: that Border Patrol agents operate with impunity, without meaningful accountability, and in complete opaqueness.

The abuses by agents are widespread and well documented. Since January of 2010 more than46 people have died as a result of an interaction with the Border Patrol. This past June, a woman was killed when Border Patrol agents intentionally rammed their boat into another boat carrying 20 people. In 2012, a Border Patrol agent shot 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez repeatedly in the back before he died. He was on his way to a local market to buy food staples in the Mexican city of Nogales, along the border with Arizona.

In the Hernandez Rojas case, a civilian bystander recorded the incident from the safety of an elevated pedestrian walkway. The video shows 12 Border Patrol agents, who are armed with batons and a Taser, brutally beating and tasing Rojas — who was lying on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. Six years later, not one of the 12 agents has been charged or even fired.

Hernandez Rojas’s widow, Maria Puga, is leading the movement for expanded oversight and accountability, including the demand that Border Patrol agents wear body cameras, which are a proven deterrent of abuse. A study shows that when officers wear them, the use of force plummets over 50 percent. Both civilians and officers experience fewer injuries when officers wear body cameras.

 

Los Angeles Times: Border Patrol Needs to Move More Quickly with Body Cameras

Border Patrol

By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times 

To assure the public of their commitment to transparency and accountability, many law enforcement agencies across the country have embraced body-worn cameras with admirable rapidity. However, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, the U.S. Border Patrol, is moving so slowly to adopt this new technology that it appears not to be moving at all.

In August, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection working group completed a yearlong feasibility study of body cameras at the request of Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske. The group did an adequate job of outlining the pitfalls of having Border Patrol agents wear cameras (resistance by the officers, privacy concerns and cost, among other things) and the benefits (decreased use-of-force incidents, better record-keeping and improved safety of officers).

No surprises there. Police agencies made similar cost-benefit analyses as they prepared to roll out their programs. And while tricky, none of the policy challenges has proved insurmountable. Meanwhile, studies over the past year have found that when police wear body cameras and record video of interactions with suspects, it really does influence the behavior of officers and suspects alike, and dramatically reduces use-of-force incidents.

This made Kerlikowske’s announcement last week that even more review of body cameras was still necessary all the more suspect. Was this just a stalling tactic by a department not committed to transparency?

To read more click here.  

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