New bill would mandate body cameras, dash cams for federal police

WASHINGTON — A new bill introduced by D.C. Dem Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., would require uniformed federal police officers to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras in marked vehicles. And they’re doing it just before the one-year anniversary of the shooting of an unarmed man by U.S. Park Police.

“Federal police are late in requiring body cameras and dashboard cameras, which help ensure transparency, protect the public and officers alike and hold bad actors accountable,” Norton said in a news release.

“The federal government should follow the lead of state and local law enforcement departments across the nation, including D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, that have implemented these best policing practices.”

Bijan Ghaisar, 25, of McLean, was shot by Park Police Nov. 17, 2017 in Fairfax County, Virginia. He died 10 days later.

“The Ghaisars have experienced a tragedy with no access to information, and would still be left completely in the dark if it were not for the Fairfax County Police Department,” Norton said.

“We owe it to the Ghaisars to do everything we can to ensure other families are not similarly left in the dark.”

The FBI has been investigating Ghaisar’s shooting for almost a full year. It has yet to publicly release any information, according to the release.

“This legislation would make long-overdue changes to bring federal police in line with other law enforcement agencies in the area of transparency,” Beyer said in arguing for the bill.

“The still-unexplained killing of Bijan Ghaisar shows how important it is to make these reforms, which will benefit victims, officers and the communities they serve,” he continued.

On the night of the shooting, Ghaisar’s Jeep Grand Cherokee was rear-ended on the George Washington Parkway in Alexandria. He drove away from the scene of the accident then Park Police spotted his SUV and began a chase.

According to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by his family, Ghaisar stopped three times as he was being followed, and each time, officers got out of their cars and pointed guns at him.

When Ghaisar stopped the third and final time, officers fired nine shots at him at close range. His family said he was shot four times in the head and once in the wrist.

Reports confirmed by Fairfax County police to WTOP said he was not armed when he was shot by Park Police officers.

The reports said Ghaisars did not have a weapon “in plain view or reach of the driver.”

“No family should have to endure what the Ghaisars have gone through over the past year and this bill would help prevent that from happening again,” Beyer said.

WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this story.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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