Justice Department to allow body cameras on joint task forces

The Justice Department will permit local police officers to wear body cameras during joint task force operations with federal agents in a pilot program, the department announced Monday.

The pilot program will allow officers participating on federal task forces to wear cameras when serving arrest warrants and executing search warrants, according to a department press release. The program will begin Nov. 1.

“These are some of the most dangerous jobs in law enforcement, and I am grateful for the sacrifice of those who serve,” Attorney General William Barr said in the release. “The Department of Justice has no higher priority than ensuring the safety and security of the American people and this pilot program will continue to help us fulfill that mission.”

The department release states the decision arose out of “input and guidance” from state and local law enforcement leaders as well as other federal agencies. 

Hundreds of federal task forces partner federal agents with state and local officers across the country, leading to some disputes about the federal ban on body cameras, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The program will take place in at least six cities and will not allow cameras during operations involving confidential informants, classified intelligence or national security concerns. Justice Department officials told The Wall Street Journal that they want the pilot program lasting 90 days or longer to help clarify how to store footage, how it could be used in court, when the cameras should record and how to handle the cameras with undercover agents.

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