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January 19, 2019

Homeless shelters to equip all peace officers with body cams

January 9, 2019
DHS Peace Officers will be equipped with the same body cameras used by the NYPD. (Christie M Farriella for New York Daily News)

The city is turning to a modern fix for an old violence problem at homeless shelters.

The Department of Homeless Services is soliciting proposals for body cameras for the 800 peace officers who patrol the shelters — and aims to equip the cameras with Bluetooth technology that’d sync with Tasers carried by the officers.

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Last month, the department completed a pilot program that outfitted 40 homeless services peace officers with bodycams. Based on the results, the department is moving forward to equip all the officers before they’re trained for Taser use.

“We’re equipping our DHS Peace Officers with the same body-worn camera technology that NYPD officers use to provide greater transparency, safety and accountability for officers and New Yorkers experiencing homelessness,” said Department of Social Services spokeswoman Arianna Fishman.

The proposal was good news for homeless shelter operators, who for years have patrolled the shelters with nothing more than batons and handcuffs.

“It’s a major step in the right direction,” said Teamsters Local 237 President Greg Floyd, whose union represents the shelter officers.

“We needed the body cameras because the officers need to be protected from the allegations. If something occurs, everyone need to know what happened from the beginning.”

The body camera proposal comes nearly three weeks after a peace officer was suspended without pay for using handcuffs to hit a homeless woman accused of biting her at a Manhattan shelter.

DHS peace officer Tiffany Randolph was seen on video swinging the cuffs after Ophelia Morphis bit the woman’s wrist. Morphis, 19, was given a summons for disorderly conduct.

Floyd said Randolph’s suspension was an overreaction to the recent viral video of a baby being ripped from his mother’s arms at a Brooklyn welfare office weeks earlier.

“One had nothing to do with the other,” Floyd said.

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