Capitol police begin body camera pilot program

US Capitol Police launched a test of body cameras Monday. About 70 officers have volunteered to wear the cameras for the 180-day pilot program.

US Capitol Police launched a cautious test of body cameras Monday — about 70 officers have volunteered to wear the cameras during the 180-day pilot program.

Only officers posted outside the Capitol and outside House and Senate office buildings will be wearing body cameras. In addition, dashboard cameras have been installed in 11 USCP cars.

While DC’s Metropolitan Police Department has been using body cameras for nine years and police in Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland are similarly equipped, body cameras for the US Capitol Police have been under consideration for several years by Congress.

US Capitol Police patrol the Capitol grounds and even residential neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, engaging the public like any other police agency, but the officers also provide a protective service for members of Congress.

“Unique to the Capitol Police is the balance we need to strike with the constitutional duties of members of Congress and the community in which we serve. … Members have the right to be able to conduct their business without it being promoted on the exterior. So it’s important for us, just as any other office building, that they can be able to conduct their business in a safe environment,” said US Capitol Police Inspector Jessica Baboulis.

Whether standing guard at congressional hearings or responding to demonstrations and protests on the Capitol grounds, Capitol police are often in the public eye.

“The United States Capitol Police is one of the most televised agencies. … We’re no strangers to being on camera, but this allows us to really record those interactions on a one-on-one basis,” Baboulis said.

In the pilot program, officers must turn on their cameras to record an interaction, but the cameras will automatically activate, recording video and audio, when officers draw their firearms or Tasers.

A US Capitol Police task force will analyze the data collected during the 180-day trial. Based on the results, US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger will make a recommendation to Congress about whether to install a program permanently outfitting officers with body cameras.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.