The Air Force has ordered troops to stop using and to dispose of their body cameras, even as many police departments throughout the United States move toward requiring the use of the equipment.
This directive, handed down by the Air Force Security Directorate on Wednesday, is not applicable to many service members, given that only 13 of 176 Air Force installations have security forces that use body cameras, according to the Air Force Times.
"The decision was made because there is no current Department of Defense direction regarding body-worn cameras or an existing program of record that would provide servicewide funding or guidance on the appropriate use of the body-worn cameras or the storage of the footage acquired," Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said.
The policy change was not made in response to any specific incident, according to Sarah Fiocco, another Air Force spokeswoman.
The memo from the Air Force's headquarters directed all personnel not to use body cameras and said they are "not authorized to use any form of a wearable audio, video, or photographic recording system," per the Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page.
Activists have called for police to use body camera footage, particularly after contentious encounters between police officers and minorities. Earlier this month, the Department of Justice authorized $7.5 million in funding to rural and tribal law enforcement agencies in an effort to provide more officers with body cameras, which Attorney General Merrick Garland said would "increase accountability and build trust with the communities [officers] serve."
But the Air Force argued it didn't need body cameras because there isn't a history of excessive force within the branch.
"We service a gated military community with an extremely low rate of law enforcement incidents that does not currently present a need for a non-DoD required or resourced body camera system," Stefanek said. "However, Department of the Air Force installations have cameras at key and critical locations that serve multiple purposes."
Details about the disposal of the equipment, including method and timeline of disposal, were not provided, though Stefanek said the process would be completed "in accordance with Defense Logistics Agency military equipment disposition procedures."
Stefanek did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner's request for comment.
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Original Author: Mike Brest
Original Location: Air Force to halt use of body cameras