Ambassador Hovenier’s Remarks for Hand-over Ceremony of Body Worn Camera Equipment for Kosovo Police

(As Prepared)

General Director Hoxha, Information and Privacy Agency Commissioner Dermaku, Police Inspectorate of Kosovo Chief Executive Officer Hodaj, Kosovo Police officers and staff, distinguished guests.

Good afternoon.

I am pleased to participate in today’s ceremony to mark the U.S. Government’s donation of body worn cameras to the Kosovo Police..

These body worn cameras are a vital new resource for law enforcement in Kosovo.

They will enhance public trust and confidence in policing, provide unbiased evidence of police and community interactions, and significantly improve accountability.

We know that Kosovo cannot take its rightful place in European and Euro-Atlantic structures as an inclusive, multiethnic democracy, without transparent, fair, and accountable rule of law institutions, including the police.

Now I think it is important to note that in the U.S., we have our own challenges with police accountability.

And, while we’re not perfect, we have improved community perceptions of the police through improved oversight.

Cameras are now a standard part of a police officer’s uniform in many jurisdictions in the U.S., because they deter misconduct and make the streets safer for both officers and the public.

Here in Kosovo, the United States has invested over $1.8 million dollars in this program – Kosovo’s first ever body worn camera program.

This donation is another demonstration of the commitment we share with the Kosovo Police to support the provision of accountable and transparent law enforcement services for all citizens of Kosovo.

Our donation today includes a country-wide electronic data storage infrastructure, 250 police body worn cameras, and 113 police vehicle installed camera systems that traffic and border police will use throughout Kosovo.

Body worn camera technology promotes safety and is a powerful and reliable tool for evidence collection: it captures unbiased and tamper-proof video and preserves factual representation of officer –and-citizen interactions.

When used properly, body worn cameras are an effective law enforcement tool that can reinforce – and even improve – how the public perceives police professionalism.

Digitalization is the way of the future, and we proudly support Kosovo’s efforts to modernize law enforcement.

Of course, the project can only succeed with strong support from its many stakeholders. We particularly recognize the Kosovo Police for its eager acceptance of this program.

We also commend the interagency cooperation and support, including with the Information and Privacy Agency responsible for personal data protection and the Police Inspectorate of Kosovo.

On behalf of the entire U.S. Embassy team, I also want to commend Kosovo Police General Director Gazmend Hoxha for your efforts to bring this project to fruition. We appreciate your continued, close collaboration.

General Director, you are truly a leader in reform and modernization not only in Kosovo, but across the region.

We deeply appreciate Kosovo’s efforts to contribute to transparency in policing and to strengthening your country’s civilian security.

Thank you.