By MICHAEL BALSAMO
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department’s inspector general has begun an audit into the department’s policies on body cameras.
The inspector general’s office said Friday that the audit will review Justice Department policies on body cameras for federal law enforcement officers, evaluate whether or not the cameras have been used since a pilot program was announced in October and will also assess plans to expand their use among federal agents and task force officers.
It comes months after the Justice Department announced a pilot program allowing -– for the first time –- federally deputized task force officers to use body-worn cameras while serving arrest warrants or making planned arrests. The task force officers are members of local and state police departments who work with federal agents at field offices across the country to investigate violent crime, gangs, drug smuggling and terrorism and arrest fugitives.
The Justice Department’s rules had long prohibited federal agents from wearing cameras and barred local officers from wearing them during joint operations, a policy that strained its relationship with some law enforcement agencies.
Months before the pilot program was announced, Atlanta’s police chief withdrew city police officers from federal task forces over the issue.
Attorney General William Barr said in October that the program had taken into account “the interests and priorities of all the law enforcement agencies involved in federal task forces.”
The pilot program was set to go into effect in several U.S. cities in November 2019.
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