Oct 28, 2019

Justice Department partially lifts ban on body cameras in joint operations

A photo of an officer turning on their body camera.

A Los Angeles police officer turning on his body camera. Photo: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.

The Justice Department is lifting a ban on police wearing body cameras in some joint operations with federal agents. Many local agencies have clashed with federal agents over the matter, per the Wall Street Journal.

The big picture: While federal officers will still be banned from wearing body cameras in operations that include fugitive hunts and building searches, both federal and local police officers working in joint task forces will be allowed to use them in other operations. Federal officials argue the unfiltered use of body cameras could jeopardize operations and risk revealing sensitive information.

  • The change will be implemented through pilot programs in at least six cities. Officers will only be permitted to wear cameras while executing search warrants and some arrests.
  • The Justice Department hopes running the trials for a period of 90 days will answer major questions such as how footage should be stored, when cameras should be turned on or off, and how to protect anonymity for undercover officers, per the Journal.

Go deeper: Axios' special report on surveillance and facial recognition

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