Despite our best efforts to answer questions posed by reporters and the public, our position on body-worn cameras (BWC) has been misunderstood or worse yet misinterpreted to fit a certain narrative. Several media outlets have incorrectly stated that the National Border Patrol Council opposes body worn cameras. This is simply untrue.
Our position on body-worn cameras is the same position we have on any proposed new technology, equipment or program. It requires us to always ask three simple questions:
- Will the equipment work in the harsh and varied conditions our agents operate in?
- Does the program/equipment enhance border security?
- Is this expenditure more important than other critical needs, including additional
Agents in the field, vehicles and a communications system that enables agents to talk to each other in the field?
The recently completed body worn camera feasibility study report issued by Commissioner Kerlikowkse found that the cameras utilized in the extensive field study did not perform well. The feasibility study report states, “most of the BWCs available in the marketplace today “provide limited effectiveness, and for the most part are not suited for CBP operational use.” In fact, the study pointed out that the video quality in low light was poor and the audio in windy conditions was nearly inaudible.
The Border Patrol is a unique and specialized law enforcement agency that operates in some of the most remote areas of the country. We are not an urban police force and equipment that works in urban areas doesn’t necessarily work for us.
Today, our nation faces enormous challenges at our borders, from the continued onslaught of unaccompanied minors, to the threats posed by drug cartels, human smugglers and terrorists. We must remain focused on securing our border and cannot divert an estimated $100 million-plus for equipment that 1) does not work in our harsh conditions, 2) fails to enhance border security and 3) is a lesser priority than other pressing needs on the border.