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Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks police begin to use body cameras

PRESS RELEASE

December 20, 2023

Fayetteville , AR — Effective December 21, 2023, all Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks police officers will begin using body-worn cameras.

This new policy will help VA’s police force execute its mission to protect Veterans, their families, caregivers, survivors, visitors, and VA employees while on VA grounds. The cameras will automatically record video & audio when an officer draws their issued firearm from their duty belt holster or when an officer activates the emergency lights in their police vehicle. Officers will also manually turn on their BWCs when conducting investigations and during enforcement encounters. In-car cameras will be turned on for traffic stops, while responding to calls for service, and while transporting those in custody.

VA has taken steps to ensure that the use of these cameras does not infringe upon the privacy of those we serve or VA employees. VA police officers and privacy officers underwent extensive training to prepare for this policy. Additionally, footage from these cameras will only be used for police investigations and court proceedings, or for limited other purposes as allowed under federal law. Unless there is a clear and compelling need for a recording, no video will be recorded in locations where a reasonable expectation of personal privacy exists.

Body-worn and in-car cameras are a part of VA police’s commitment to being transparent, building trust, supporting officers, and promoting de-escalation while avoiding use of force on VA grounds. More information about this policy can be found in these frequently asked questions.

“Our great police officers keep Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors safe at VA facilities every day,” said VA Secretary Dennis McDonough. “Using dashcams and bodycams will make our facilities even safer – building trust in our great police force while increasing transparency and promoting de-escalation.”

VA is implementing this policy as a part of President Biden’s Executive Order 14074, “Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety,” as well as the bipartisan Cleland-Dole Act of 2022. The executive order requires that all Federal law enforcement agencies use body-worn cameras to promote equitable, transparent, accountable, constitutional, and effective law enforcement practices, and the bipartisan  Cleland-Dole Act requires that all VA Police officers wear body cameras that record and store video and audio.

VA employs approximately 4,670 VA police officers who serve at VA facilities and campuses. Learn more about VA Police Service.

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