FBI Reconsidering Body Camera Policy Amid Tensions With Local Police Departments
Police chiefs want their officers to wear body cameras at all times, but officers serving on federal task forces are forbidden from doing so.
- By Haley Samsel
- Oct 29, 2019
Amid tensions with police departments over body camera policy, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Saturday that his agency would “find a way forward” on allowing local police officers serving on federal task forces to wear body cameras while on the job.
The Justice Department’s current policies do not allow federal agents to wear cameras and prevent local officers from wearing them during joint operations, The Associated Press reported. In response to the rules, Atlanta’s police chief withdrew his officers from federal task forces.
Other agencies, including police departments in Houston, Austin and St. Paul, Minnesota, have considered doing the same, according to The Washington Post.
During a speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago, Wray said that any policy change would have to ensure that the recordings do not compromise any sensitive investigations or reveal informant identities.
“We want to make sure that we find some middle ground that we’re all comfortable with,” Wray said. “The good news is we’re talking about it. We’re getting it all out on the table, and I’m actually confident we are going to find a way forward here.”
In addition, Wray’s remarks addressed an agency pilot program that seeks to quickly pass threat information called in to the FBI’s tip line to local law enforcement. The FBI has faced intense scrutiny for how it handled tip information relating to the Parkland high school shooting in February 2018 and other mass shootings.
The pilot program, which has been launched in six states, allows calls to the tip line to be simultaneously routed to FBI offices as well as state and local command centers. The goal is to cut down on the amount of time it takes for high priority threats to reach local law enforcement.
“The volume and the speed that’s needed to deal with it is maybe the greatest challenge we face in law enforcement right now,” Wray said, according to the AP. “We have some kinks we have to work through, but I think it is on the right path.”
Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.