As of this week, all uniformed patrol officers in the NYPD have been equipped with body cameras.
According to AM New York on Wednesday, New York Police officials made the the announcement, only a few weeks after a court ruled that the department could release camera footage to serve as evidence in certain cases.
The report reads, “The department has distributed about 20,000 cameras to police officers, sergeants and lieutenants in every precinct, Transit District and Police Service Area, according to the department. The NYPD will next roll out about 4,000 cameras to officers in specialized units such as the Emergency Services Unit, Strategic Response Group and Critical Response Command by August.”
Since the pilot program was launched back in April 2017, approximately 3.5 million videos have been recorded by the body cameras. Officials say they are meant to be activated any time an officer is involved in an investigation or enforcement action.
In the past the footage has been used as evidence to both in support of an officer’s account of what happened, and also to expose those who abuse their authority while interacting with the public.
“Any enforcement action, those cameras should be on,” explains First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker. “And we have been going to great lengths to try and make sure that the officers understand they have to turn the cameras on early enough in that process.”
Tucker also gave the caveat that the department would use their discretion to determine what footage is appropriate to release, “on a case-by-case” basis.
“This is not a one size fits all approach,” he said. “Rather each incident must be evaluated … and after balancing competing interests — for example, stakeholders such as prosecutors, investigators, transparency, officer safety, educating the public about what took place and so forth — the police commissioner will at some point determine in each of those instances when it’s appropriate to release such video.”
Although the expectation is that wearing of body cameras by officers would reduce use of force across the board, that has not been concretely determined.
In a 2014 study by the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, officers in Rialto, California were found to have reduced use of force by about 50 percent, according to Newsweek. But an 18-month study of officers in Washington D.C. found that cops there wearing the cameras used force in their interactions at about the same rate as cops who were not wearing them, the New York Times reported.