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GOP Joins Effort To Equip Border Patrol With Body Cameras

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Two House Republicans from border states have begun to push appropriators to drop millions of dollars into a 2020 funding bill to make sure that Border Patrol agents are equipped with body cameras.

Arizona Reps. Debbie Lesko and David Schweikert penned a letter to the leading Democrats and Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Homeland Security, asking for an extra $21 million to be included in the chamber’s fiscal 2020 funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security.

Here’s more from The Washington Examiner:

“These funds will allow CBP to acquire body-worn cameras and deploy the exact same technology already used by our nations [sic] local law enforcement. The body-worn camera equipment is desperately needed to improve officer safety and transparency,” wrote Schweikert and Lesko, the latter of whom is ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security.

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The new urging comes less than two weeks after Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema asked her Senate colleagues to include the same block of funding for body cameras on federal law enforcement at the border.

In the Oct. 16 letter, Sinema described how law enforcement organizations across the country had employed the new technology, but the 60,000-person U.S. Customs and Border Protection within the Department of Homeland Security has not followed suit despite years of debate and internal research.

“Nationally, almost 300,000 state and local law enforcement officers have embraced the use of body-worn cameras, and more than 60 percent of all police departments nationwide have in-car cameras,” Sinema wrote in a letter obtained by the Washington Examiner. The Democrat-controlled House in June included $21 million for body cameras in the 2020 DHS appropriations bill.

CBP was sent an email request asking whether or not it wants to actually see this measure passed, but no answer was given. Earlier in October, the agency released a formal Request For Information for “Body Worn Cameras in Support of Incident-Driven Video Recording Systems,” which seems to indicate that it is seeking out a contractor should the funding be passed by the Senate.

As of now, neither CBP nor the White House have publicly approved of the measure.

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