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Body-Worn Cameras

NYPD Body-Worn Camera Program

What you need to know

In April 2017, Phase I of the department's body-worn camera program began, and by year's end, approximately 1,300 police officers were outfitted with cameras on the evening shifts in 20 precincts across the city. This first phase supported a year-long study of the effects of the body-worn cameras.

Subsequently, the department committed to providing body-worn cameras by the end of 2018 to all officers performing patrol functions in our precincts, transit districts, and police service areas. On October 2018, the department became aware of a potential product defect with the Vievu LE-5 model body-worn cameras. Out of an abundance of caution, the Police Commissioner directed the continued use and distribution of the LE-5 model cameras be suspended effective immediately. The department is exploring various options to replace the cameras that have been taken out of service and resume the rollout.

Map of body-worn camera deployment by precinct - January 2019

Frequently Asked Questions About Body Cameras

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What are body-worn cameras and what is their purpose?

Body-worn cameras are small digital video cameras that police officers wear on their uniform shirts or winter jackets. Their purpose is to record enforcement and other encounters between the police and the public to establish a documentary record of those encounters. The use of body-worn cameras by police departments in other cities has shown that cameras help de-escalate encounters and reduce civilian complaints. The cameras may also provide important evidence in criminal and civil proceedings.

Will all New York City police officers be wearing cameras?

Phase I of the roll out of Body Worn Cameras is complete and there are approximately 1,300 officers equipped with cameras in twenty (20) Patrol Precincts. As of December 2017, Phase II was implemented equipping officers on all tours of duty with cameras. By the end of 2018 all Patrol Precincts, Housing Police Service Areas and Transit Districts will be equipped with Body Worn Cameras.

When are officers required to record video?

To balance the goals of the body-worn camera program with privacy concerns, officers will not record all interactions with the public. Officers must record certain events, including:

  • All uses of force
  • All arrests and summonses
  • All interactions with people suspected of criminal activity
  • All searches of persons and property
  • Any call to a crime in progress
  • Some investigative actions
  • Any interaction with emotionally disturbed people

Officers may not record certain sensitive encounters, such as speaking with a confidential informant, interviewing a sex crime victim, or conducting a strip search.

Will officers tell people that a camera is recording?

Officers must tell members of the public that they are being recorded unless the notification would compromise the safety of any person or impede an investigation. Officers do not need a person’s permission to start, or to continue, recording.

When may an officer turn the camera off?

Any events for which recording is required must be recorded from start to finish. If a member of the public asks an officer to turn off the camera, the officer may do so, but may continue recording if the officer thinks it unsafe or inadvisable to stop. Officers may not turn off the camera if the suspected perpetrator is still present on the scene.

How long will the NYPD keep the recordings?

The NYPD will retain all video recordings for one year. Video of arrests and other significant incidents will be retained longer.

When may officers view body-worn camera video?

In routine cases, officers will be allowed to view video before preparing reports. In officer–involved shootings, use-of-force cases, or when police misconduct is alleged, officers will be able to view video at a time allowed by the supervising investigator and before making any official statement. The technology will not permit officers to edit or delete any video evidence.

When may video be released to the public?

Members of the public can request video under the Freedom of Information Act. The NYPD will provide video as required by law, while protecting the privacy of people captured in the videos.

If a video captures evidence related to a criminal case, the NYPD will turn the video over to the prosecutor's office. Prosecutors will provide video to the defendant in accordance with criminal discovery laws.

If a camera records an officer-involved shooting or other high-profile incident, the NYPD will work with the relevant authorities and oversight to determine if a video can be made public without undermining a criminal investigation or interfering with a person’s right to a fair trial.

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