Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will create a six-month pilot program to test the use of body cameras on their agents as mandated by Congress, according to CBS News.
The program will have agents working out of Homeland Security Investigations offices located in New York, New Jersey, and Texas wearing cameras on either their vest, shirt, or helmet, and be required to activate them while on "pre-planned law enforcement operations," such as executing search warrants or making arrests.
A senior ICE official confirmed to CBS the footage from these cameras will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act and be made available to defense attorneys during the discovery phase of criminal cases.
"With its body-worn camera pilot, ICE is making an important statement that transparency and accountability are essential components of our ability to fulfill our law enforcement mission and keep communities safe," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
CBS reported the department will not immediately allocate any body cameras to officers with Enforcement and Removal Operations, who are the agents that conduct immigration enforcement raids and run ICE detention centers.
Chris Crane, the president of the National ICE Council union, said there is "no way" the agency is prepared to launch this program at this point, describing the stated timeline as "ridiculous," as well as "reckless" and "irresponsible."
"Suspecting they may lose control of the House in the next election, Democrats on the Hill are forcing the program before it's ready while they're still in control," Crane added.
"There are significant questions around the precise policies that will surround use of body cameras by ICE," Jay Stanley, who works with the American Civil Liberties Union as a senior policy analyst, told CBS. "The difference between good policies and bad policies is the difference between whether this is something that provides accountability or whether it becomes just another surveillance tool."
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