By Dominick Fils-Aimé | October 5, 2016
The New York Police Department has come under fire after it has been revealed that not one single NYPD officer is equipped with a surveillance body camera. Even more surprising, the majority of NYPD patrol cars are not equipped with a dashcam.This comes as an odd revelation to some, especially considering that in 2013 a federal judge ordered that a pilot program for the technology be implemented in at least five New York City precincts.
The recommendation (I guess) was reported to be an attempt at reducing unwarranted stops and searches of black and Latino men, after the judge rendered the city’s stop and frisk practices unconstitutional. Three years later, however, not one of New York City’s 35,800 police officers are wearing a body camera, despite such surveillance devices being common practice in many police departments nationwide. Police forces in Chicago; Houston; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; and Washington each have at least 500 officers wearing the devices.
Despite having been ordered to establish a program for such devices three years ago, police have said that they are still committed to outfitting their officers with cameras. However, according to the department, plans to supply at least 5,000 body cams over the next 5 years are being negotiated. Still, a contract has yet to be signed, halting the rollout of the devices for at least another few months. Ironically, the NYPD is the same police department who was one of the first departments to volunteer themselves as models for technology driven policing and improving the relationship between community and police.
“There are still things that have to be worked through,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in relation to his body camless city, “But I want to be very clear that they are coming.”
Body cameras are envisioned to facilitate police accountability, providing departments with video evidence of what occurs during stops, arrest, violent encounters etc. Resistance for implementing the technology come from the direction of both police reform advocates and some law enforcement agencies. In the case of reform advocates, many believe that body cameras create a conflict in concerns with privacy, while police departments and legislators argue that the cost of storing data collected by the cameras would be astounding. Still, one might argue that dishing out millions in tax dollars for civil suits against police officers is a much greater number.