The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on May 23, a department-wide policy on the use of body-worn cameras (BWC) for law enforcement officers and agents to be more transparent, a first for the department as a whole.
The policy comes as the department begins to work with Congress to create a plan to receive the funds needed to secure BWCs for the department.
“Our ability to secure the homeland rests on public trust, which is built through accountability, transparency, and effectiveness in our law enforcement practices,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas.
The new policy outlines how the department will only utilize BWCs to respond to emergency calls, preplanned arrests, and search warrants executions. The policy also importantly outlines that the department will not use BWCs for only recording people conducting First Amendment-protected activity.
“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,” said Mayorkas.
DHS agencies will have 180 days to update their policies to adhere to the new department-wide policy which will ultimately affect nearly 80,000 law enforcement officials.
“DHS is working to secure the resources required to ensure full implementation of the new policy. Once DHS officers and agents receive BWCs, they will be subject to their Agency’s or Office’s policy,” states the announcement.
The new policy will align the department with the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) policy on body cams, released in 2021.