Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Congressman Donald S. Beyer (D-VA) announced today that they have introduced the Allowing Body Cameras in Joint Task Forces Act of 2019, which would prohibit the federal government from refusing to work with local police departments that require their officers to wear body cameras.
The Washington Post recently reported that federal officials are prohibiting local police from participating in joint federal-local task forces if they wear body cameras, and several police departments have pulled out of these task forces as a result.
This legislation follows a Norton and Beyer bill that would require uniformed federal police officers to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras in marked police vehicles. The District of Columbia and Fairfax County both require police officers to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras in marked police vehicles.
“Although it appears to be an unwritten policy, the Department of Justice’s decision to refuse to work with local police forces that wear body cameras is disturbingly counterproductive in keeping the public safe and is unprofessional,” Norton said. “The DOJ has determined that 47 percent of police departments in the country wear body cameras. It is beyond reason that these departments would be prohibited from partnering with federal police simply because of their body camera policy. The federal government should be encouraging the use of officer body cameras, which help resolve disputes between police and the public, not the opposite. This bill will increase transparency and accountability, while keeping our federal and local authorities focused on keeping our communities safe.”
“Police departments across the country are adopting body cameras because they promote transparency and trust between officers and the communities they serve,” Beyer said. “The Justice Department should be leading the way in adopting new technologies and innovations that improve policing and helping to raise standards, but instead these reports show that they are actively hindering efforts to bring accountability to law enforcement. That is unacceptable and our bill would help to restore federal leadership where it is urgently needed.”