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DHS unveils body camera guidance for agencies

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced Tuesday the first department-wide policy requiring its law enforcement officers and agents to wear body cameras when interacting with the public in specified settings. 

The guidance issued instructs DHS agencies with law enforcement officers to develop agency-specific policies that meet or exceed the standards outlined in the department-wide policy. These agencies — including the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — must develop their policies within the next 180 days.

The new policy would require law enforcement agents to wear body cameras when responding to emergency calls, during planned arrests and when executing search warrants. The policy specifies agents are not permitted to wear body cameras “for the sole purpose of recording individuals engaged in First Amendment activity.”

Mayorkas said the new department-wide policy follows President Biden’s executive order requiring law enforcement agencies to review its policies on the use of force, writing in a press release, “Our ability to secure the homeland rests on public trust, which is built through accountability, transparency, and effectiveness in our law enforcement practices.”  

“Today’s policy announcement is designed to advance these essential values. Requiring the use of body-worn cameras by our law enforcement officers and agents is another important step DHS is making to bring our law enforcement workforce to the forefront of innovation, and to further build public trust and confidence in the thousands of dedicated and professional law enforcement officers at DHS,” Mayorkas added.

Several DHS agencies have issued body-worn camera policies within the past two years, building to the current announcement. CBP deployed about 6,000 body-worn cameras to its workforce beginning in August 2021. ICE conducted a body-worn camera pilot program in November 2021. The Secret Service issued its agency-specific policy in September 2022.

Source: The Hill

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