The nine federal law enforcement agencies in the Department of Homeland Security will require body-worn cameras under specific circumstances, USA Today reports. All law enforcement agents at DHS agencies — including Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Federal Protective Service — must activate cameras when responding to emergency calls, during pre-planned arrests, and when executing search warrants or orders. The department-wide order also said agents are not permitted to wear body cameras "for the sole purpose of recording individuals engaged in First Amendment activity." Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas signed the policy detailing when officers should wear body-worn cameras and said the ability to protect the country rests on public trust, that's "built through accountability, transparency, and effectiveness," in its practices.
The policy comes nearly a year after President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring law enforcement agencies to review their use of force policies as part of the fallout from George Floyd's death by a Minneapolis police officer, sparking international outrage. "It's long overdue," Robert Griffin, dean of the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity at the University of Albany, said about the policy on Tuesday. "(A camera) is a third party that can verify what actions were taken," said Griffin who previously served in an acting under-secretary role in the Homeland Security department. "It's good for our society, our law enforcement, and our system of justice." The policy arrives as the CBP recently released body-worn camera footage of Border Patrol agents fatally shooting a man, a U.S. Citizen, who allegedly drove through a border patrol checkpoint in Las Cruces, N.M. The agency said the driver repeatedly refused to comply with the agents' requests to surrender. After hitting one agent with a wooden club, he was shot 16 times by agents. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico called for an investigation and the release of the agents' video to "allow the public to see for themselves the events leading up to this shooting."