NYC police department launches 1st phase of bodycam program

The Newark Police Department is one step closer to outfitting officers with body cameras and meeting the requirements of a federal consent decree reached previous year. The Vievu cameras are slightly different and a more recent version than was piloted two years ago.

The 34th Precinct, located in an ethnically-diverse neighborhood with the largest Dominican population in the city, is the first of 20 precincts to get some of the almost 1,200 cameras this year in the pilot program.

Among the rules, officers are required to activate them on all enforcement or investigative encounters, but the cameras must be turned off during interviews with informants of victims of sex crimes. Company officials said the in-vehicle cameras can be automatically activated when an officer turns on the car's flashing lights or siren, which also activates the body-worn camera.

A federal judge ordered the body-camera program in 2013, after finding that the NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactics had wrongly targeted minorities.

As WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the body cams will be good for police officers and the community.

"I'm totally convinced now that this is the way forward", said Police Commissioner James O'Neill.

They will have to tell people they are being recorded unless it would compromise the person's safety or an investigation.

"We are going on a pathway of transparency and accountability", de Blasio said. Officers involved in police shootings will be allowed to see the footage before writing up their police report, officials said, but emphasized that the technology will not allow them to edit or review the footage.

There is also a skepticism surrounding the benefits of police body cameras.

The use of body-worn cameras will ensure that officer to citizen contacts are memorialized for the safeguarding of citizen rights and proper police procedure. To craft its policy, the NYPD consulted roughly 50 other police departments around the country already using cameras and worked with more than 30 New York City stakeholders including the District Attorney, Public Advocate the New York Civil Liberties Union and citizen groups.

  • Leroy Wright