Tuesday, December 9, 2014

NYPD to Start Wearing Body Cameras

By Tim Herasimtschuk

Police departments across the country are doing what they can in order to improve relations with the community, following incidents involving several departments. The New York Police Department is currently involved in an investigation after an incident in August, where a bystander videotaped an officer using excessive force on Eric Gardner, who later died, reportedly as a result of the officer’s choke hold; the incident is still under investigation.

In an attempt to change relations between police officers and community members, as well as avoid other incidents like this, where there are numerous questions as to what happened, police in New York City will start to wear body cameras on their uniforms, according to a report on WNYW Fox 5. The program is still in its very early stages and will begin to be tested among officers in areas with the highest crime and stop and frisk incidents. Among the NYPD stations testing this program are the 23rd Precinct in East Harlem and the station in St. George, Staten Island, where the Eric Gardener incident took place.

This program introduces two types of cameras, one that can be worn on the uniform and another that can be worn above the ear. All the officer has to do is press a button to activate the camera; they will hear a beep, signaling the camera is now recording whatever is taking place.

Police unions across the country are arguing against these cameras, citing privacy concerns for the officers; however, at least one union official has come forward, stating that this will be a good thing for the departments and may clear officers of any wrong doing when they are accused of excessive force or unnecessary stops. If these cameras prove they work through the tests, they may be rolled out through more departments across the country, including the rest of the NYPD.

Tim Herasimtschuk is a Communication Arts student at St. Thomas Aquinas College with an interest in working in news broadcasting.

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