Border Patrol Officers to Wear Body Cameras in Effort to Make Agency More Transparent

An announcement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Wednesday declared that CBP officers will now wear body cameras on their uniforms to provide "greater transparency" in their practices.

The statement said that an initial group of agents will be fitted with cameras as a "first step toward broader implementation."

JUST IN: @CBP announces U.S. border patrol agents will be required to wear body cameras, a hefty operational change likely to increase oversight of the patrol and assist criminal investigations.

CBP expects to deploy approximately 6,000 cameras by the end of 2021.

— Nicole Sganga (@NicoleSganga) August 4, 2021

The body cameras are roughly the size of a deck of cards that will be worn on the front of an officer's uniform. They will be running continuously, and footage is saved after an officer activates the camera.

"Our agents and officers serve the public and protect our borders every day with great skill and professionalism," said CBP Acting Commissioner, Troy Miller. "Providing them with state-of-the-art technology and tools like body-worn cameras will support their work and provide greater transparency into interactions between CBP officers and agents and the public."

The new body-cam initiative comes after organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other pro-immigrant groups have criticized Border Patrol for their use of force, and Reuters reported that they have called upon the use of cameras in order to improve accountability after several high-profile shootings by law enforcement have taken place in the last decade.

"This is a significant step forward and will build upon CBP's current utilization of other technology to investigate incidents and allegations of misconduct," the agency stated.

Migrant arrests have only increased in recent years, and the cameras might provide new insight into the way policing is run at the southern border. According to preliminary government data, authorities stopped an average of over 6,700 migrants a day in the month of July.

And more than 1.2 million migrant encounters have been reported by border officials so far this fiscal year, according to CBP data. That total number of migrant encounters has already exceeded the more than 1.1 million total encounters CBP officials reported in 2019.

A study on the usage of body cameras for CBP officers took place in 2014, but found that the cameras "did not hold up particularly well" in the field, said the then-CBP Commissioner, Gil Kerlikowske. They could be knocked off easily or dirtied with dust.

Another study took place in 2018 in which the evaluation recommended the use of the cameras in select Border Patrol locations.

U.S. border authorities plan to deploy a total of 7,500 body-worn cameras, with 6,000 of them in the field by the end of the year, according to the official statement.

Newsweek reached out to a CBP Press Officer for additional comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday they would be implementing the use of body cameras on agents and officers to provide additional reliability to the policing at the border. A man from El Salvador is processed by a US Border Patrol agent in Sunland Park, New Mexico on July 22, 2021. PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images