DOJ: Federal Law Enforcement Must Wear Body Cameras When Executing Search Warrants

DOJ: Federal Law Enforcement Must Wear Body Cameras When Executing Search Warrants DOJ: Federal Law Enforcement Must Wear Body Cameras When Executing Search Warrants (Getty Images)

By Solange Reyner | Tuesday, 08 June 2021 05:38 PM

The Department of Justice on Monday issued a memo requiring body camera usage by all federal law enforcement officers when executing arrest warrants and conducting raids, changing a longstanding rule that will more closely mimic local and state law enforcement agencies requiring the use of such devices.

“Although the Department’s law enforcement components do not regularly conduct patrols or routinely engage with the public in response to emergency calls, there are circumstances where the Department’s agents encounter the public during pre-planned law enforcement operations,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco wrote in a memo announcing the policy change.

The department in its memo directed law enforcement agencies to develop policies in the next 30 days to include the use of cameras and instructs DOJ officials to train federal prosecutors on how to handle recordings as evidence.

The DOJ last October, under then-Attorney General William Barr, announced that it would permit state, local, territorial and tribal task forces to use body cameras on federal task forces and federally deputized officers to activate a body-worn camera while serving arrest warrants, during the execution of search warrants or during other planned arrest operations.

“The Department of Justice has no higher priority than ensuring the safety and security of the American people and this policy will continue to help us fulfill that mission,” then-Attorney General William Barr said in announcing that policy change.

The National Police Association welcomed the announcement.

“Many federal agents, especially when working with local police agencies on multi-agency task force initiatives, get involved in incredibly dangerous situations and the American public should be able to see firsthand the risks these brave police officers take,” said retired police Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, National Police Association spokesperson.

“Body worn camera footage can also be utilized to improve the safety of federal agents through the review of footage, such as the recent murder of FBI Agents Schwartzenberger and Alfin in Sunrise, FL last February,” she added.

Laura Schwartzenberger and Daniel Alfin were two FBI agents killed in February while executing a federal search warrant.