NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City is rolling out its pilot program that will equip police officers with body cameras.
In September, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced 60 officers in five precincts — one in each borough — and one housing project would use the devices to record their experiences and interactions with civilians during their daily shifts.
Starting Friday, officers in the 120th Precinct on Staten Island, 40th Precinct in the Bronx and Police Service Area 2, which patrols public housing developments in parts of Brooklyn, will start wearing the devices, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
PHOTOS: Mayor Unveils NYPD Body Cams
There will be seven instances in which an officer must turn on the camera, D’Auria reported. The device will be worn on an officer’s chest and will begin recording 3.8 seconds after it is turned on, CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
“This is another way to get information, to create transparency, to create accountability,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. “We’ve spoken continuously about the need to bring police and community together.
“It’s going to help in many ways. It’s going to improve the work of law enforcement, and, God forbid, when something goes wrong, we’re going to have clearer understanding of what happened,” the mayor added.
— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) December 3, 2014
As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, the officers wearing the body cameras will flip them on for stop questions and frisks, vehicle stops, arrests when force is used and when encounters become confrontational.
Officers who participate will be doing so voluntarily, Schneider reported. However, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued words of caution.
“Body cameras can’t become a tool for massive police surveillance of lawful behavior. Safeguards must be in place to protect the privacy of both officers and the public,” the NYCLU said.
Bratton said cost is a concern as the NYPD prepares to roll out the new program, which is aimed at bridging mistrust between law enforcement and the public.
“There is a significant cost, though, that I don’t think the public fully understands yet,” Bratton said. “There is a monthly charge for every one of these devices and that charge is almost $100 a month. So they get quite expensive when you have to buy about 30,000 of them.”
Deputy Commissioner Jessica Tisch said storing the recordings will be a major and costly problem.
“How many hours is an officer going to record per tour, will tell me how much data I’m going to be storing per tour and tell me how much I’m paying for cloud services,” Tisch said.
Following weeks of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama announced a plan Monday to federally fund use of body cameras by local police departments, but it’s unclear whether New York City will receive any of the federal money.
Obama is proposing a $263 million spending package that includes $75 million for small lapel-mounted cameras for officers around the country.
More law enforcement agencies have been putting the devices into use. One camera company has sold to more than 1,200 organization since 2009.
Police officers in Ferguson, Missouri began wearing the devices after days of unrest following the police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
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