Officers from a Department of Homeland Security investigative unit in Newark and two other cities will wear body cameras for the first time in a six-month pilot program that will focus on the costs and benefits of the use of technology in the application of federal laws. , officials said.
The cameras will be used during testing by 55 members of the SWAT-type special response teams at Homeland Security Investigations in New Jersey, Houston and New York, a senior official told reporters earlier this week.
Homeland security investigations, which focus on transnational federal crimes such as drug and human trafficking and fraud, are a component of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as of ICE.
The senior ICE official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity to provide details of the program ahead of the announcement, said the agency plans to later expand the pilot to include officers who proceed. immigration arrests.
The program, while only a test, represents an expansion of the use of technology already widely used in national and local law enforcement. Federal agencies that use them include the US Forest Service, US Customs and Border Protection, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“With its body worn camera pilot, ICE is making an important statement that transparency and accountability are essential to our ability to fulfill our law enforcement mission and keep communities safe,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in announcing the program.
Special agents responsible for internal security investigations are required to use body cameras when performing actions such as planned arrests, questioning suspects and executing search warrants.
The images could be made available to criminal defense lawyers as part of the discovery process as well as – to a more limited extent and with restrictions – to others under the Freedom of Information Act, the manager said.
The pilot program aims to assess the cost of the program and the effectiveness of the equipment, and a summary of the results should be published.
DHS is negotiating aspects of the program with the union that represents ICE law enforcement officers, and officials have not specified when this part of the pilot will begin.
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