Norton, Beyer federal police body camera legislation included in House police reform package
The Federal Police Camera and Accountability Act of 2019 introduced by Eleanor Norton, D-D.C., and Don Beyer, D-Va., has been included in the House’s new sweeping police reform bill, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020.
Norton and Beyer introduced their bill, which would require uniformed federal police officers to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras in marked vehicles, after U.S. Park Police officers shot and killed 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar, who was unarmed, in 2017.
“The events of last week virtually mandate passage of our bill requiring that federal police officers have body and dashboard cameras, just as local police throughout the United States do,” Norton said. “Last week, the world witnessed U.S. Park Police and other federal police officers forcibly remove peaceful protestors outside the White House so President Trump could hold a photo op. We also saw federal policer officers, many of whom were not wearing any identification, swarm the streets of the nation’s capital. As the House works to reform policing across the country, we appreciate that today’s bill includes the body camera provision.”
“Recent events have sadly shown how important body cameras are for transparency and accountability following acts of police violence,” said Beyer. “Both the death of George Floyd and the violent treatment of people who peacefully protested that injustice have again underscored the need for our legislation requiring body cameras for all federal police. I am also mindful that the event which originally inspired this legislation, the killing of Bijan Ghaisar in 2017 by U.S. Park Police, has never been justified or explained. I hope that the Justice in Policing Act, in which our legislation was included, will help prevent similar injustices in the future.”
Ghaisar was fatally shot in his car by Park Police officers in Fairfax County after he fled a car crash 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. The District of Columbia and Fairfax County both require officers to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras in marked vehicles.
Both officers involved are on administrative duty pending an internal investigation, which will not start until Fairfax County decides whether to prosecute the officers.