Norton, Beyer federal police body camera bill passes House as part of police reform bill
The Federal Police Camera and Accountability Act, which would require uniformed federal police officers to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras in marked vehicles, passed the House of Representatives today as part of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Congressman Don Beyer (D-Va.) introduced the bill after U.S. Park Police officers shot and killed 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar, who was unarmed, in November 2017.
“At a time when the nation is clamoring for greater oversight of police departments, our bill, first introduced in 2018, spotlighted the need for federal police officers to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras,” Norton said. “Our bill was prompted by the U.S. Park Police killing of Bijan Ghaisar, whose details we knew about only because of dashboard cameras used by Fairfax County police. Park Police have rare jurisdiction throughout D.C. and the region. Federal police among police departments in the United States are late in requiring these cameras. This equipment has rapidly become ubiquitous throughout the country with little complaint from police officers. Our bill is among the least controversial provisions in the George Floyd Justice in Police Acting Act, passed by the House today.”
“Repeated incidents of police violence — including the killing of George Floyd — have sadly shown once again how important body cameras are for transparency and accountability,” said Rep. Beyer. “Our legislation would help ensure that those who commit acts of police brutality are more likely to be held accountable. If not for dashboard cameras we would know far less about the killing of Bijan Ghaisar in 2017 by U.S. Park Police, which inspired this legislation. Like the larger Justice In Policing Act, this is an important reform and I thank my colleagues for passing it.”
Ghaisar was fatally shot in his car by Park Police officers in Fairfax County, Virginia, after he fled a car crash and was pursued by officers on 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.
The District of Columbia and Fairfax County both require officers to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras in marked vehicles.