VA police begin to use body cams and dash cams

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WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that VA police officers will begin to use in-car and body-worn cameras. All VA police officers will be using body-worn and in-car cameras by the end of 2023, beginning with police officers in VA’s Desert Pacific Healthcare Network on June 20.

This new policy will help VA’s police force execute its mission to protect Veterans, their families, caregivers, survivors, visitors, and VA employees while on VA grounds. The cameras will automatically record video and audio when an officer draws their issued firearm from their duty belt holster or when an officer activates the emergency lights in their police vehicle. Officers will also manually turn on their BWCs when conducting investigations and during enforcement encounters. In-car cameras will be turned on for traffic stops, while responding to calls for service, and while transporting those in custody.

VA has taken steps to ensure that the use of these cameras does not infringe upon the privacy of those we serve or VA employees. VA police officers and privacy officers are undergoing extensive training to prepare for this policy. Additionally, footage from these cameras will only be used for police investigations and court proceedings, or for limited other purposes as allowed under federal law. Unless there is a clear and compelling need for a recording, no video will be recorded in locations where a reasonable expectation of personal privacy exists.

Body-worn and in-car cameras are a part of VA police’s commitment to being transparent, building trust, supporting officers, and promoting de-escalation while avoiding use of force on VA grounds. More information about this policy can be found in these frequently asked questions.

“Our great police officers keep Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors safe at VA facilities every day,” said VA Secretary Dennis McDonough. “Using dashcams and bodycams will make our facilities even safer – building trust in our great police force while increasing transparency and promoting de-escalation.” 

“Thousands of VA police officers bravely protect and serve anyone who sets foot on a VA facility,” said Veterans Health Administration Senior Security Officer Troy Brown. “By outfitting every VA police officer with a body-worn camera, we’re enhancing transparency and ensuring safety and accountability in policing.”

VA is implementing this policy as a part of President Biden’s Executive Order 14074, “Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety,” as well as the bipartisan Cleland-Dole Act of 2022. The executive order requires that all Federal law enforcement agencies use body-worn cameras to promote equitable, transparent, accountable, constitutional, and effective law enforcement practices, and the bipartisan Cleland-Dole Act requires that all VA Police officers wear body cameras that record and store video and audio.

VA employs approximately 4,670 VA police officers who serve at VA facilities and campuses. Learn more about VA Police Service here.

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