New York City NY March 13 2019 Twenty thousand extra eyes are now watching police encounters with civilians in New York.
The Police Department announced last week that uniformed officers patrolling neighborhoods, public housing developments and the transit system have been assigned body cameras. New York’s camera program is twice as large as any other police departments in the country.
An additional 4,000 officers in specialized commands, like the Emergency Service Unit, are supposed to get the cameras by August, which would make the city’s body-camera program the largest in the world.
The department started distributing the cameras in April 2017 and has moved forward despite a malfunction last October that caused one of the devices to burst into flames, delaying the rollout and forcing officials to replace thousands of devices over safety concerns.
Still, don’t expect the Police Department to release videos of every arrest or encounter anytime soon. The department has kept most of the footage away from the public despite promises from Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill to be more transparent.
One reason had been a lawsuit brought by a police union, the Police Benevolent Association, that argued that judges, not the police commissioner, should make decisions about releasing videos. But two weeks ago, an appeals court threw out the suit and said the videos could be made public.
The department, however, has yet to release any of the videos that were held up while the lawsuit was pending.