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Border & Immigration

U.S. Customs And Border Protection To Decide On Body Cameras

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U.S. Customs And Border Protection To Decide On Body Cameras
The agency's decision is expected sometime this year, after a nine-month feasibility study.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will decide whether or not to use body-worn cameras before the end of this year, according to an official in charge of a nine-month study of the technology.

The study was launched in October 2014 as part of a response to use-of-force complaints involving border patrol agents. The cameras were used in training and in the field, in land, air and maritime environments. The department's Body-Worn Camera Working Group is now compiling the findings and writing a report for Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske.

“We do anticipate that the commissioner will make an implementation decision by the end of the calendar year,” said Donna Twyford, leader of the working group and assistant chief at the U.S. Border Patrol Headquarters in Washington, DC, during a conference call with reporters Thursday.

In addition to observing the cameras in use, the working group also spoke with law enforcement agencies that have been using body-worn cameras, such as the Los Angeles Police Department and the New York Police Department.

The results of the study are not yet publicly available, but Twyford said the group had identified potential usefulness in the technology for the agency.

“The working group does recognize the benefits that body-worn camera technology can offer in support of the CBP mission,” she said.

Twyford said the study showed a need for multiple options in terms of body-worn camera products and ways to use them if the department embraces the technology because of the varied working environments of the agency.

Local immigration rights groups said they’re optimistic about the outlook of the study, which yielded 271 hours of footage.

“We are encouraged by the commitment from Customs and Border Protection to move forward with the body-worn camera feasibility study,” said Christian Ramirez, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition.