US border agents to begin wearing body cameras

WASHINGTON — Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday that the agency has begun to outfit a group of agents and officers with body-worn cameras with plans to get 6,000 cameras on officials by the end of the year.

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The cameras are about the size of a deck of playing cards and will be running continuously, officials said. Agents will be able to activate the cameras during incidents, which will save footage beginning from two minutes prior to the activation.

“Our agents and officers serve the public and protect our borders every day with great skill and professionalism,” Troy Miller, acting commissioner of CBP, said in a statement. “Providing them with state-of-the-art technology and tools like body-worn cameras will support their work and provide greater transparency into interactions between CBP officers and agents and the public.”

The cameras will first be deployed at Border Patrol locations across the southwest and northern borders before going to officials at ports of entry throughout the U.S., officials said.

Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union have called for CBP to adopt body cameras to increase accountability and oversight, according to Reuters.

The National Border Patrol Council, a group that represents about 18,000 Border Patrol agents and support personnel, also welcomed the camera deployment. Officials with the group told Reuters that the cameras could be helpful during criminal investigation and in showing that agents act professionally.

In 2014, CBP first conducted a feasibility study and evaluation of the viability of using body-worn cameras which determined that more studies would be needed. The agency conducted a six-month in-field evaluation of the devices in 2018, after Congress mandated more evaluation of CBP’s Incident-Driven Video Recording Systems program.