FBI El Paso is the first FBI office in the state of Texas to outfit its agents with body cameras as the agency works to increase transparency and build trust with the community, officials said.
The FBI El Paso, which serves all of West Texas, is just the sixth FBI office in the U.S. to get body cameras for its agents, officials said.
The goal of the body cameras is to ensure accountability, transparency and build trust with the community, FBI El Paso Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Downey said.
“The FBI’s intention is to wear the body worn cameras for transparency about our public interactions," Downey said. "The FBI is excited to participate in the BWC (Body Worn Camera) program as another avenue to provide investigative facts during our investigations. Our primary mission is to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and this is another means to show the public that we conduct ourselves with the utmost professionalism during any public interaction.”
Agents will wear the body cameras when conducting "pre-planned" operations, including executing search warrants and arresting suspects, officials said.
"The FBI will not be like our state and local partners that wear body cameras for their entire shifts," FBI El Paso officials said. "FBI Agents will only wear cameras on pre-planned arrest and search warrant operations, be it a drug investigation, white collar investigation, gang investigation, cyber or national security cases."
The cameras will not be used to collect evidence, conduct witness interviews or when interacting with human sources or undercover employees, officials said.
The body cameras will be worn on agents' bulletproof vests.
The other FBI offices currently using body cameras are the Washington, D.C., Field Office, Miami, Milwaukee, Atlanta and New York.
The equipment is part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Body Worn Camera program. FBI offices are receiving the cameras in phases as part of the program. All FBI field offices are expected to have body cameras by 2024, officials said.
Visit fbi.gov for more information on the agency's use of the cameras.
FBI social media outreach
FBI El Paso officials announced May 26 that the agency launched a Facebook page to open another avenue for the agency and West Texas community members to communicate, officials said.
The page can be found at facebook.com/FBIElPaso.
The FBI El Paso’s account is one of three FBI Facebook accounts across the nation. The two others are the agency's main page, FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation, which launched in 2009, and FBI Seattle, which launched in February 2023, officials said.
“In the global environment we live in, social media is the preferred method of communication for a large number of our population, both young and old,” Downey said. “Social media has become the principal source for news and information. It’s the right thing for us to expand our use of social media to more effectively engage the public we serve.”
The FBI El Paso Facebook page will be used to post wanted fugitives’ photos, arrest and criminal charge information, safety tips and messages, and community outreach efforts and events, officials said.
Aaron Martinez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AMartinezEPT.
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: FBI El Paso is first office in Texas to have agents wear body cameras