WASHINGTON—The Justice Department will require federal agents to wear body cameras when executing arrest warrants or searching buildings, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Monday, reversing a longstanding federal policy as more local police agencies mandate the devices for accountability.
Ms. Monaco in a memo directed the heads of federal law-enforcement agencies to draft within 30 days body-camera policies that address when agents must use them as well as how the footage should be stored and when it can be released.
Justice Department officials have long maintained that agents shouldn’t use the cameras because their work is mostly investigative and often involves confidential sources, as opposed to officers who patrol the streets, where confrontations with citizens are more likely to occur.
The federal government in October began allowing state and local police to wear body cameras during some joint operations with federal law-enforcement personnel. But the department continued to bar federal agents from using them, arguing that footage from the devices could jeopardize sensitive investigations.
Ms. Monaco’s memo is a reversal of that stance, requiring federal agents to use the cameras in preplanned arrests, such as those of fugitives sought on state and local warrants, and when executing search warrants.