New York City Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton announced a pilot program on Thursday that will equip 60 police officers with body cameras. In a joint statement Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James issued a statement that said the body camera program would “provide transparency, accountability, and protection for both the police officers and those they serve, while reducing financial losses for the city.”
“New York City will do everything it takes to stay the safest big city in the nation. This means testing new methods and staying ahead of the curve on emerging technologies like body cameras,” de Blasio and James said. “While we have yet to work out many specifics — such as data storage and confidentiality — our offices look forward to working together with the police department to ensure this promising pilot program is the right fit for our City and makes every New Yorker safer.”
Following weeks of violent protests that occurred after an unarmed African-American man was shot by a police officer there last month, body cameras were identified as a potential solution to deal with police brutality. However, the origins of New York’s pilot program pre-date the situation in Ferguson.
Last year, a federal judge ordered the NYPD to adopt body cameras as part of a ruling on the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk tactics. According to the New York Times, which reported on the body camera pilot prior to Bratton’s announcement, the NYPD did not launch the program in consultation with the court of a federal monitor put in place by the judge last year. This led to criticism from a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the stop-and-frisk case who told the Times the decision to launch the pilot program was unfairly “unilateral.”
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