Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) announced today that they will reintroduce their Federal Police Camera and Accountability Act, which would require uniformed federal police officers, including U.S. Capitol Police, to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras in police vehicles. Last Congress, their bill was included in the House-passed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020. The District of Columbia and Fairfax County both require officers to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras in marked vehicles.
“There is an urgent need for this bill,” Norton said. “Capitol Police tried to stop last week’s mob attack on the Capitol, but without body cameras, we have been forced to rely on social media streams, cameras in the Capitol and pubic reporting to learn what happened. The events at Lafayette Square last year, where U.S. Park Police and other federal police officers forcibly removed peaceful protestors so the President could hold a photo op, is another recent example of why our bill is needed. Body and dashboard cameras have long been used by local police and are appreciated by both officers and the public. There is no reason federal police officers should not also be using body and dashboard cameras.”
“Consider that following a violent invasion of the United States Capitol, one of the most sacred places in our country, investigators were using cell phone footage taken by the attackers to identify them. It is 2021 – federal officers should all be wearing body cameras, period,” said Rep. Beyer. “Civil rights protests and demands for justice this summer brought attention to the need for better transparency by federal law enforcement, and we will continue to find new ways where this deficiency does harm until Congress fixes it. That was true in 2017 following the still-unexplained killing of Bijan Ghaisar, and it is true now.”
Norton and Beyer originally introduced their bill following the November 2017 fatal shooting of unarmed 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar by U.S. Park Police. Ghaisar was fatally shot in his car by Park Police in Fairfax County, Virginia, after he fled a car crash in the District and was pursued by officers down George Washington Parkway. Footage of the shooting was released by the Fairfax County Police Department, which captured it on a cruiser’s dashboard camera. Without that footage, Ghaisar’s family and the public would have had no access to the circumstances surrounding Ghaisar’s death.