New York City’s police commissioner believes body cameras are necessary to help law enforcement agencies deal with police brutality allegations like the situation in Ferguson, Missouri this week where days of riots have followed the shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager.
In an appearance on MSNBC Wednesday morning, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton predicted officers around the country will eventually be wearing video cameras on their bodies to record interactions with the public.
“That’s the direction where American policing is going. That’s where we’re going in the NYPD. We’re working very closely with the LAPD, who’s about a year ahead of us in putting cameras in place,” he said.
Bratton is currently dealing with fallout from a high-profile case of alleged police brutality involving the death of Eric Garner, an African-American man who died in NYPD custody in July. A nearby bystander filmed much of the encounter on his phone and the video appears to show at least one officer deploying a banned chokehold as Garner repeatedly shouts, “I can’t breathe.” Rev. Al Sharpton and other advocates have been rallying for the officers involved to be arrested. However, Bratton stressed video recordings aren’t necessarily conclusive.
“We still have a way to go. The first story is never the last story, as you know. There’s a criminal investigation by the district attorney in Staten Island, a very competent individual. About 15 officers at that scene ultimately. Quite a few civilian witnesses,” he said. “It does reduce some of the elements of he-said-she-said. But even with video, there’s still circumstances around the event that you have to look at.”
Bratton endorsed the general concept of body cameras in 2013 but appears to be in no hurry in implementing them in his police force, which he took over at the start of 2014. As recently as August, his office told Capital New York, “No final decisions have yet been made as to the implementation of these applications in the field.”
View Bratton’s full MSNBC interview below.
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