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US agents to start wearing body cameras when serving warrants

By Reuters | June 8th 2021

US federal agents escort a suspect at Reforma border crossing bridge in Ciudad Juarez. [Reuters]

US law-enforcement agents will be required to wear body cameras when serving search and arrest warrants, the Justice Department said on Monday, adding a measure of accountability already required of many state and local police departments.

Federal agents had previously been barred from wearing cameras, a policy that sometimes created tension during joint operations with state and local police.

The new directive, announced by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, comes as the Biden administration has shown sympathy to victims of police brutality in cases such as the murder of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody a year ago, a case that triggered street protests across the country.

Agents from the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,

Firearms & Explosives will be required to wear cameras and activate them when serving an arrest warrant, executing a search warrant, or during other pre-planned operations.

Monaco ordered the chiefs of those services to submit a body camera policy for review within 30 days, including a plan to phase in implementation.

She also required federal agents be made aware of a policy implemented in October 2020 that permits state and local police to wear body cameras while serving in joint operations with the federal agencies.

Before then, state and local police were required to turn off their cameras while working on joint operations with their federal counterparts, even when their own policies required cameras.

Additionally, federal prosecutors were ordered to devise a training program to help make the recordings admissible as evidence in court.

In her memorandum announcing the new policy, Monaco cited the importance of "transparency and accountability."

"I am confident that these policies will continue to engender the trust and confidence of the American people in the work of the Department of Justice," Monaco said.

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