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Calls for police body cams resurface in wake of Eric Garner death

Less than a month after Eric Garner's death while in police custody, local leaders are reigniting a push for NYPD to equip officers with body cameras.

body camera cam On Monday morning, Public Advocate Letitia James is set to release a report in support of putting a camera on NYPD officers. Days after Eric Garner's death, James joined members of the City Council's Black, Latino and Asian caucus and argued that "all street encounters should be videoed to avoid this from happening again."
Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Less than a month after police were caught on bystander camera arresting a Staten Island man who later died in custody, politicians are reigniting a push for NYPD to equip officers with body cameras.

On Monday morning, Public Advocate Letitia James is set to release a report in support of putting a camera on New York City Police Department officers.

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The call comes almost a year since Judge Shira Scheindlin suggested in her decision against NYPD's use of stop-and-frisk that that the department create a body camera pilot program.

Days after Garner's death, James joined members of the City Council's Black, Latino and Asian caucus and argued that "all street encounters should be videoed to avoid this from happening again."

Not long before releasing the report, James recommitted to the reform.

"I believe such a program, which has been embraced by other law enforcement departments nationwide, will go far to protect NYPD officers as well as those they serve," James said in a statement Friday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also said the city is open to adopting body cameras but that "they are complicated" and "something that has to be worked on quite a bit to be used on the kind of scale we’re talking about."

Only a handful of cities across the country have implemented body cameras for police, which can cost between $500 and almost $1,000. NYPD and its 34,500 unformed officers would be the largest force to undertake such a program.

In early July, Comptroller Scott Stringer's office estimated the city spent $137.2 million in NYPD-related settlements and judgments.

Even the leader of the city's largest police union, who opposed body cameras after last year's court order, was warmer to the idea of body cameras given the uptick of eyewitness arrest videos.

"That's an option that we need to talk about," Patrick Lynch of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said last week, adding that discussions of the potential benefits had not yet happened. "Wait and see."

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria

 
 
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