The NYPD is stepping up its rollout of body cameras, with plans to have each cop and detective on patrol in the city equipped with one by year’s end, Mayor de Blasio said Tuesday.
The accelerated pace means the project will be completed a year ahead of schedule, said the mayor, helping to make the city “fairer, faster and grow trust between police and communities.”
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said that “valuable feedback” from precincts already using the cameras provided incentive to increase the pace.
"We are on track to have all precinct, transit and housing commands citywide up-and-running with body cameras by the end of this year,” O’Neill said.
NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker said that by the end of the year, 17,100 officers — almost the entirety of the department’s patrol force — will be equipped with body-worn cameras.
“We see the benefits (of body-worn cameras) continually and as a result we were able to prioritize the rollout because of those benefits,” Tucker said.
This summer, the first NYPD Academy class will be given body cameras and be trained on how to use them, Tucker said.
Once they graduate, they will be expected to be using the cameras on patrol.
The NYPD rolled out its first group of camera-equipped cops in April as part of a pilot program after a federal judge found in 2013 that the city’s use of the stop-and-frisk tactic was unconstitutional — targeting a disproportionate number of blacks and Latinos while taking few guns off the street.
The program began in Inwood’s 34th Precinct with 50 cops on the 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift outfitted with cameras.
So far, four police-involved shootings have been caught on body cameras including, an incident in the Bronx Monday night where cops shot and killed a man charging at them with a knife.
The city’s largest police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association filed a lawsuit earlier this month to block the release of body camera footage to the public, claiming the disclosure poses civil rights concerns for both cops and civilians.
PBA President Pat Lynch lambasted the fast-tracked expansion Tuesday.
“It makes no sense to accelerate the program while there are so many unresolved issues regarding the use of body cams, including the very basic question of whether they actually produce a meaningful change in the interaction between police officers and civilians on the street,” Lynch said in a statement.
“It would be much more prudent to slow the roll out down while these difficult legal and practical issues are resolved,” he said.