Air Force Drops Security Forces Body Cameras Here’s Why

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A tool that has become essential in civil law enforcement generating visual evidence in high-profile cases such as the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis will no longer be used by the Air Force.

The Air Force is ordering all facilities whose security forces use body cameras to stop using and dispose of the equipment.

The order was issued by the Air Force Security Services Directorate on Wednesday, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told the Air Force Times.

“The decision was made because there is no current MoD guideline regarding body cameras or an existing recording program that would provide department-wide funding or advice on the proper use of body cameras or storage of acquired images, “she said.

Only 13 of the 176 Air Force installations have security forces that use body cameras, Stefanek said. These facilities have started purchasing and using equipment in recent years using funds from local units, said Sarah Fiocco, another Air Force spokesperson.

Air Force officials could not immediately say which facilities were using body cameras. The policy change was first reported by the Air Force amn / nco / snco Facebook page Thursday.

There were no specific incidents causing the new policy, Fiocco said.

However, as questions began to arise over how to use funds and equipment and store data, higher headquarters began to look into the matter, Air officials said. Strength. It was ultimately determined that there was no DoD-wide policy on body-worn cameras, no clear need to justify their use, and many political complications created by their use. As a result, the Air Force decided that the facilities that used them should shut down and get rid of the equipment.

Such devices have been instrumental in some civil criminal justice cases, particularly those involving the use of force as in the case of Floyd. Video obtained from body-worn cameras in Minneapolis Police played a key role in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer convicted of murder and manslaughter in the murder of Floyd.

Body-worn cameras “are both beneficial and cost effective,” NPR reported, citing a recent study by public safety experts and global economists. These results were published in a published research paper by the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Council on Criminal Justice Policing Task Force.

The results “show that the main advantage of body-worn cameras is the reduced use of police forceJens Ludwig, professor and director of the Crime Lab, told NPR. fatal and non-fatal, fell almost 10%.

Support for body-worn cameras by police is mixed, however, with some drawbacks highlighting issues of confidentiality and storage of evidence.

Air Force officials say there is no similar need for force reduction in the flight branch.

“We are serving a closed military community with an extremely low rate of law enforcement incidents that currently does not present the need for a body camera system not required by the DoD or equipped with resources,” Stefanek said. “However, the Air Force Department facilities have cameras at key and critical locations that serve multiple purposes.”

At the moment, there is no specific plan on how to dispose of the equipment and images, Stefanek said.

“All body camera equipment will be disposed of in accordance with Defense Logistics Agency military equipment disposal procedures,” she said. “We are currently reviewing the appropriate disposal method for the images. “

In some cases, other federal agencies or even local law enforcement may take the equipment, Stefanek said.

Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously a military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that for the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and the SOF at large among many other topics. .

Rachel Cohen joined the Air Force Times as a senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has been featured in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), The Washington Post and others. .


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