Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photography Office
NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker holds up a body-worn camera.
By Forum Staff
The City Police Department will speed up its timeline to outfit all police officers and detectives on patrol with body-worn cameras by the end of 2018, one year earlier than previously planned, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD recently announced.
As of Jan. 26, the NYPD has deployed 2,470 body cameras. The department plans to issue approximately 800 cameras each month in January and February, increasing to 1,000 to 2,000 per month beginning in March. By the end of 2018, the NYPD plans to have deployed a total of 18,000 body cameras. Only police officers and detective specialists on patrol will be outfitted with a camera, the administration noted.
“Through the hard work of our technical and support staff, along with the valuable feedback from those commands that have already been equipped with body cameras, we are now able to move forward at a faster pace in expanding the program,” said Police Commissioner Jim O’Neill. “We are on track to have all precinct, transit and housing commands citywide up-and-running with body cameras by the end of this year.”
De Blasio noted that his Preliminary Executive Budget includes $5.9 million in Fiscal Year 2018, $12 million in FY2019 and $9.5 million in FY2020 in funding for the accelerated rollout. The resources will cover the cost of purchasing body-worn cameras, associated information technology upgrades, and the build out of the space for the Body Worn Camera Units in the Risk Management, Information Technology and Legal bureaus.
“Speeding up the timeline for body cameras on all patrol officers is a big step towards improving police-community relations across the City,” said City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), chairman of the Committee on Public Safety. “Thankfully, we are not waiting until 2019 to fulfill this necessary rollout, because our communities need more transparency and accountability now. This decision will help accelerate our ability to shine a light on abuse and false claims of misconduct.”
In addition to the body cameras themselves, NYPD requires aforementioned IT infrastructure upgrades in the facilities to ensure a smooth rollout. The work will enable the charging of body cameras in police facilities and additional internet bandwidth to accommodate faster video footage uploads.
“Body cameras are a tool for meaningful reform and are critical for both civilians and officers engaged in encounters,” said Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica). “While the body camera policy leaves room for improvement, the expedited increase in cameras is a step in the right direction.”
Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) added, “Accelerating the timeline for equipping our officers with body-worn cameras will serve to build on the accomplishments already achieved by the Administration, NYPD and community and faith-based organizations to promote transparency and accountability in local law enforcement, and better relations between police and community. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner O’Neill for their efforts to make this vital tool available in every neighborhood that much sooner, especially those served by the dedicated officers of the 103rd, 105th and 113th Precincts.”