NYPD's New Body Cameras May Help Catch Crooked Cops in the Act
In the wake of Michael Brown's death and a subsequent call for funding from President Obama, body cameras for cops have moved close to the center of the national conversation around police reform. According to a speech today from Bill de Blasio, they'll be coming to New York as soon as this week.
Of course, the NYPD isn't exactly taking the step voluntarily—a federal judge ordered it after a civil rights lawsuit last year. That didn't stop de Blasio and Bratton from touting the program. From Capital New York:
"One of the things the president is rightfully focused on is body cameras, and later this week we'll be rolling out a pilot program related to body cameras here in this city," de Blasio told reporters this morning, referencing his meeting in Washington, D.C., on Monday with President Obama and other elected and law-enforcement officials and clergy to discuss policing.
"But one thing we can say for sure, body cameras are one of the ways to create a real sense of transparency and accountability. They're one of the ways that we can bring police and community closer together," said de Blasio, who spoke at the Ingersoll Houses in Brooklyn, a public housing complex that has seen an 18-percent reduction in crime since last year.
Hooray! Body cameras are a decent enough first step, but as Mario Aguilar pointed out on our sister site Gizmodo recently, they're far from a perfect solution to brutality:
The problem arises in instances when police encounters aren't so idyllic. It turns out that when it actually comes time to review the evidence recorded, things get more complicated.
First of all, the evidence recorded by body cameras stands on shaky legal ground. As City Lab reported earlier this year, the San Diego police routinely deny public requests for body cam video, and the police claim that the footage isn't admissible in court. So much for transparency and evidence.
Body cameras will only do the job they're intended to do if Commissioner Bill Bratton decides to let New Yorkers see the footage. And if we know anything about the NYPD, it's that they're no big fans of transparency.
[Image via AP]