The New York City Police Department has been working for years to test and outfit its entire force with body cameras, with a goal of having one for every officer by next year. That plan appears to have hit a snag: a camera worn by an officer in Staten Island last night began smoking and “burst into flames,” prompting the NYPD to pull them from use while it investigates.
According to The Daily Beast, the incident occurred around midnight in Staten Island, and involved a Vievu model LE-5 camera. An official told the publication that “It unexpectedly began to smoke and fell from his shirt to the ground,” where “it then caught fire and was damaged.” In a statement, the NYPD says that it’s been made “aware of a possible product defect,” and that nobody was injured when the battery “exploded.”
The NYPD says that it’s investigating the cause of the defect. According to the statement, Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill “has directed that the continued use and distribution of the LE-5 model cameras be suspended effective immediately.” The department says that while officers assigned an LE-5 camera are to turn them in to their commands as a precaution, but those assigned an LE-4 camera are to continue using them.
A spokesperson for Axon told The Verge that “We are working closely with the NYPD to investigate this issue. The officer was not injured, however officer safety is of the utmost importance to Axon. We will do whatever is necessary to quickly and safely resolve this situation.”
The Daily Beast notes that around 2,990 cameras are affected, out of the 15,500 that the NYPD currently fields.
Update October 21st 2018, 4:02 PM ET: Updated with statement from Axon.