Biden orders all federal law enforcement to wear body cameras

President Biden pauses while delivering remarks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House on the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school on May 24. Biden is set to sign a law enforcement executive order Wednesday.

President Biden pauses while delivering remarks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House on the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school on May 24. Biden is set to sign a law enforcement executive order Wednesday. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Sweeping changes for federal agents and officers win support from their advocates.

All federal law enforcement will soon have to wear body cameras under an executive order President Biden is set to sign on Wednesday, which has won the support of the group representing those personnel. 

The order will also require the creation of a database of officer misconduct to which every federal law enforcement agency will contribute and that agencies must then use as part of their screening process for vetting personnel. State and local entities will also be able to use and contribute to the database, which will also include federal officers’ commendations and awards. The Justice Department will maintain the database and make aggregate data available to the public. 

Biden will sign the policy, dubbed the Executive Order to Advance Effective, Accountable Policing and Strengthen Public Safety, on the two-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by a police officer. Floyd’s death sparked widespread protests of police misconduct, which led to many reforms at the local level but fewer changes for federal personnel. The signing will follow the Justice Department this week updating its use-of-force policy for the first time in 18 years. 

The White House drafted the order in close coordination with the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which endorsed the reforms. Larry Cosme, FLEOA’s president, attended around 20 meetings with senior White House staff and called the EO a good compromise. FLEOA and other stakeholders effectively lobbied against some provisions included in a draft version of the order, successfully pushing, for example, to allow officers to review their own footage. 

"It's a good step in the right direction," Cosme said. He called the reforms a modernization and said changes like cameras are similar to equipping cars with accessories that were not available 20 years ago. The cameras not only add accountability but protect officers, Cosme added. 

Several law enforcement agencies throughout government have piloted body camera initiatives, with the Justice Department requiring them for law enforcement officers engaged in executing search warrants and making pre-planned arrests. The recent omnibus funding package for fiscal 2022 provided agencies with new money to set up or further develop their body camera programs. Under Biden’s new order, federal officers and agents must wear cameras that are activated during activities such as arrests and searches. Agencies must allow for “the expedited public release” of footage in which federal personnel are involved in incidents resulting in bodily harm or death, the White House said. 

Similar to the guidelines Justice made public this week, the order will require agencies to promote de-escalation and the mandate that employees intervene when their colleagues are violating use-of-force policies. Biden made all federal law enforcement subject to Justice’s new rules. 

Cosme called the use-of-force update important, noting FLEOA has provided its own de-escalation training and pushed the administration to fund such an effort at the agency level. White House officials said such trainings would occur annually for all employees, but Cosme wanted it to occur more frequently. The duty to intervene provision would codify a practice already present in the field, he said. 

The order will ban the use of chokeholds by federal personnel and restrict the use of no-knock entries to only occasions when an announcement would “pose an imminent threat of physical violence.” President Trump in 2020 similarly issued an executive order to restrict federal grants to local law enforcement entities unless they instituted policies to limit chokeholds and no-knock entries.

FLEOA pushed the White House to include investments in officer wellness, recruiting and retention, with Cosme noting many agencies have had difficulty in filling positions. Under the order, every federal law enforcement agency will assess and improve its officer wellness programs and the attorney general will recommend measures to prevent officer suicides. Justice and the Health and Human Services Department will release best practices on what those wellness programs should look like. Agencies will also update their recruiting and retention strategies, with a working group identifying new mentorship and leadership opportunities for federal officers. As part of that effort, agencies will also establish new means to ensure they screen new personnel for associations with promoting violence, white supremacy or other bias. 

“There has to be an investment in officers and agents,” Cosme said. “The conversations I’ve had with White House leadership and the Justice Department, they realize the current situation and what needs to be corrected.” 

Part of that process will be providing the resources for those programs, retention incentives and the training to lay out best practices, which Cosme said the White House has committed to doing. Employees need to know what is expected of them, he explained. 

“It’s going to work well,” Cosme predicted. The administration has “been open to implementing the changes we’ve offered.” 

This article was published first on GovExec, a FederalSoup partner site.

NEXT STORY: All hands on deck?

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.