Police Commissioner William Bratton on Thursday shared details about the New York City Police Department's pilot program for equipping police officers with body cameras. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
By the beginning of next year, the New York City Police Department hopes to have 60 officers wearing body cameras that will record interactions with the people they encounter.
"This is an extraordinarily complex initiative," said Police Commissioner William Bratton. "It is not simply going down to your local RadioShack, buying one of these things and putting it on."
Officers in each borough will be asked to volunteer to wear the cameras during a pilot program. The selected precincts are the 23rd, 40th, 75th, 103rd and 120th, and Housing Police Service Area 2.
"It's constantly recording 30 seconds of video with no audio. So it's constantly buffering it. It'll keep overriding that 30 seconds of video with no audio. When the officer activates the camera, it locks in that prior 30 seconds and then continues with the video and audio from there," said Sergeant Joseph Freer of the NYPD.
The move by the NYPD is a direct result of the federal trial against the city last year over the high rates of stop-and-frisks of black and Latino men. The judge ruled that cameras should be used on a trial basis, but the court hasn't finalized the plan.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is upset. It sued the city over stop-and-frisk and said this move is not collaborative policing because they weren't contacted.
"The civil rights organizations, of which there is no shortage of them, that we're informing them initially through you," Bratton said. "They've already quickly responded,
Richard Emory, the new head of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, who is a civil rights lawyer, gives the cameras the green light.
"The presence of video in police-civilian interactions has been a watershed. It has allowed the public to see what goes on. It has allowed police officers to clear themselves quickly when they're falsely accused," Emory said. "There's nothing better than having contemporaneous, accurate evidence."
The police commissioner said the policy on how officers will use the cameras is still being developed and will change if problems are discovered during the pilot program.