Federal agents will begin wearing body cameras during planned operations, such as conducting searches and serving arrest warrants.
This week, agents in the Detroit and Phoenix officers of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were outfitted with the cameras as part of a multiphase plan, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. Over the next several weeks, body cameras also will be issued to FBI and DEA agents, as well as members of the U.S. Marshals Service.
“Law enforcement is at its most effective when there is accountability and trust between law enforcement and the community," Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement. "That is why we have expanded our body worn camera program to our federal agents, to promote transparency and confidence, not only with the communities we serve and protect, but also among our state, local and Tribal law enforcement partners who work alongside our federal agents each day.”
The new initiative builds off of a 2019 DOJ pilot program allowing federally deputized task force officers to use body cameras during planned law enforcement operations. Since October, the department's different agencies have been integrating the devices on federal task forces across the country.
In June, the ATF, FBI, DEA and U.S. marshals have been directed to create their own individualized body camera policies and that footage from significant incidents should be released to the public as soon as possible. Under the program, body cameras would be worn and activated during:
pre-planned attempts to serve an arrest warrant or other pre-planned arrest, including the apprehension of fugitives sought on state and local warrants
the execution of a search or seizure warrant or order.
“Because there are circumstances where the use of force may occur during planned law enforcement operations, we are committed to the use of body-worn cameras by DOJ law enforcement agents in such circumstances," said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. "I am proud of the job performed by the department’s law enforcement agents, and I am confident that these policies will continue to engender the trust and confidence of the American people in the department’s work.”