In March 2019, the NYPD announced that all uniform patrol officers, which includes police officers, sergeants, and lieutenants assigned to every precinct, transit district, and housing detail will be equipped with body worn cameras (BCW) while on patrol.
The stated purpose of this program, by then Commissioner James P. O’Neill, is to “improve accountability and transparency in everything we do.”
Has this program achieved its lofty objectives? A report by the Civilian Complaint Review Board answers that question with a resounding NO!
The CCRB report claimed, after reviewing hundreds of BWC videos, that officers were consciously attempting to circumvent the stated goals and purpose of the cameras. They did so by warning their fellow officer when their body worn cameras (BWC) were recording. Phrases such as “I went Hollywood”, “Green”, “We’re live”, and “I’m hot” were repeatedly used to warn officers that BCW’s were on and recording.The report also found that nonverbal cues were utilized as well.
In November 2019, the CCRB and the NYPD entered into a Memorandum of Understanding, which included a request to amend the Patrol Guidelines to prohibit body camera interference tactics by members of service. However, I submit, it is unlikely that the NYPD will adopt that proposal in writing or in practice.