Every beat cop in NYPD now has a body camera

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AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

NEW YORK – Today, the New York Police Department announced that all uniform patrol officers in New York City—including Police Officers, Sergeants and Lieutenants assigned to every precinct, Transit District and Police Service Area—are now equipped with body-worn cameras. The NYPD has distributed approximately 20,000 cameras to complete this effort. This roll-out marks the largest deployment of body worn cameras in the nation. Additionally, the NYPD today announced that starting this month, approximately 4,000 body-worn cameras will be issued to specialized units such as Emergency Services Unit, Strategic Response Group and Critical Response Command. The roll-out to specialty units is expected to be completed by August 2019.

“The NYPD has worked incredibly hard to build trust and strengthen relationships in the communities we serve, as we continue to improve accountability and transparency in everything we do,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “Body-worn cameras enhance the safety and accountability of the dedicated men and women of the NYPD while improving their ability to ensure public safety. This completed roll-out marks a significant milestone for the NYPD.”

The NYPD launched Phase I of the body-worn camera program in April of 2017, outfitting 1,300 police officers with body-worn cameras in 20 precincts across the city. Phase II, which represented the balance of commands citywide began in December of 2017, and as of the end of February 2019 the roll-out to uniformed police officers, sergeants and lieutenants in numbered commands is complete.

Body-worn cameras are integral to Neighborhood Policing. They provide a contemporaneous, objective record of encounters, facilitate review of events by supervisors, foster accountability, and encourage lawful and respectful interactions between the public and the police. They have also been effective in memorializing important information during critical incidents. NYPD officers are required to activate a body camera when conducting investigative and enforcement actions such as making an arrest, issuing a summons, searches or stopping a person on the street in the course of an investigation. All officers equipped with body cameras have received training on how the cameras function, how to use the video management software, as well as the NYPD’s body camera policies. As part of their training, officers also, participate in role-play scenarios in order to acclimate themselves to the proper use of the cameras.

The City’s initial timeline for completion of the body-worn camera program was the end of December, 2018. Initially, commands were equipped with the Vievu LE-4 camera before the Department began distributing the Vievu LE-5 model in late 2018. After an issue with a LE-5 camera in October 2018, out of an abundance of caution, all LE-5 cameras were immediately recalled. The NYPD worked swiftly and safely to move forward with the roll-out. Following the recall, the NYPD replaced the recalled LE-5 cameras with the LE-4 model and Axon Body-2s (AB-2), and continued the roll-out to another 19 commands that had not yet been outfitted with AB-2 cameras. The NYPD will be transitioning to Axon cameras citywide as part of the scheduled lifecycle replacement of existing cameras beginning this October.

Body-worn cameras by the numbers:

  • 79 commands equipped with LE-4s
  • 19 commands equipped with AB-2s
  • 16,000 Vievu LE-4s distributed
  • 2,990 Vievu LE-5’s distributed and recalled
  • 4,000 of AB-2 cameras distributed
  • 4,000 AB-2 cameras in new roll-out to specialized units starting in March
  • Every 30 months, the NYPD receives free equipment upgrades for all of the cameras
  • Since the roll-out began the NYPD has recorded over 3.5 million videos

In February 2019, an appellate court ruled that body worn camera footage is not a personnel record under Civil Rights Law Section 50a. This ruling permits the release by the NYPD of body worn camera footage of critical incidents when appropriate as well as in response to requests under FOIL by the public and media. The NYPD has begun reviewing relevant footage in order to respond to FOIL requests.

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