After months of delays, the New York City Police Department issued its proposal to outfit its entire force with body cameras. Once approved by its court-appointed monitor, it will dictate how officers will be required to use the cameras.
The proposal outlines when the cameras should be used, and how the resulting footage will be stored and accessed. The policy dictates that all cameras will be activated during “all enforcement and investigative encounters,” and that officers must inform their subjects that they’re recording. The rules also note that the cameras must be deactivated during meetings with confidential informants, during demonstrations (unless there is a crime being committed), sex crimes victims, and internal meetings. 1,200 officers around the city are to be issued the cameras by the end of the month, according to The Associated Press, while the rest of the force is expected to have them issued by the end of 2019.
Officers will receive a day-long training on how to operate the devices, and will also be able to review their own footage and that of their colleagues during official duties. Footage will be retained for up to a year, although some videos can be stored longer on a case-by-case basis.
The policy has been criticized by some advocacy groups, such as the New York Civil Liberties Union, which claim that officers will have too much discretion over when they can turn the cameras on, and when they can view the footage. At the same time, unions representing captains, detectives, and lieutenants intend to go to court to stop the rollout of the devices, saying that they were not consulted on the policy.
In January, city officials announced that all of its patrol officers will be issued the cameras by the end of 2019, after a year of work between various city stakeholders. The use of body cameras has risen among police departments across the United States, spurred on by a number of high-profile deaths of civilians at the hands of officers in the last couple of years. While body camera footage has been useful to prosecutors and advocates, this footage can be incomplete or deleted.