(October 29, 2020) – Today, the Justice Department announced that it will permit state, local, territorial, and tribal task force officers to use body-worn cameras on federal task forces around the nation. The department’s policy will permit federally deputized officers to activate a body-worn camera while serving arrest warrants, or during other planned arrest operations, and during the execution of search warrants. The policy is the result of a pilot program launched by the department last October.
“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 Department of Justice, through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the FBI; and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), partners with state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement on hundreds of federal task forces throughout the nation. Together, these task forces work to combat violent crime, stem the flow of illegal narcotics, and arrest dangerous fugitives.
On Oct. 28, 2019, after consulting with a number of state and local law enforcement associations, the Attorney General announced a pilot program to consider the use of body-worn cameras on federal task forces. In January 2020, federal task force officers in several pilot cities began using body-worn cameras on task force operations and concluded the pilot program on Sept. 1, 2020.
The department would like to thank the Houston Police Department, Detroit Police Department, Wichita Police Department, Salt Lake City Police Department and Park City Police Department for their participation in the pilot program, as well as all of the state and local law enforcement leaders that have provided input and guidance.
State and local agencies that would like to participate in DOJ’s task force body-worn camera program may contact the Special-Agent-in-Charge of the federal agency sponsoring the task force, or, in the case of USMS-led task forces, the federal district’s U.S. Marshal. Due to the large number of state and local agencies nationwide that may like to participate, federal agencies may establish a graduated process to onboard partner agencies to the body-worn camera program. This will ensure an orderly and coordinated process to deal with the technical, training, and operational considerations involved in establishing a large-scale body-worn camera program.