VA Police at Coatesville VA Medical Center Now Equipped with Body and Dash Cams

VA Police body cameraImage via United States Department of Veterans Affairs

COATESVILLE, PA — As of August 28, VA police officers at the Coatesville VA Medical Center have begun using in-car and body-worn cameras in an effort to enhance transparency, build trust, support officers, and promote de-escalation of potentially volatile situations.

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

The VA has taken measures to ensure that the use of these cameras does not infrac on the privacy of those they serve or VA employees. Both VA police officers and privacy officers have undergone extensive training in preparation for this policy. Footage from these cameras will only be used for police investigations and court proceedings, or for limited other purposes as allowed under federal law. No recording will occur in locations where a reasonable expectation of personal privacy exists unless there is a clear and compelling need.

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

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Troy Brown, the Veterans Health Administration Senior Security Officer, echoed this sentiment. “By outfitting every VA police officer with a body-worn camera, we’re enhancing transparency and ensuring safety and accountability in policing,” he said.

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

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