Officials believe that an NYPD body camera exploded earlier this month because of damage caused by the process of resetting the camera with a paper clip, according to an independent forensic report.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Information Technology Jessica Tisch released the findings at an unrelated press conference on Tuesday.
The forensic investigator found that the explosion was likely the result of the lithium ion polymer battery inside the Vievu LE-5 body camera, Tisch said, reading from the report.
There was no indication that the device’s failure stemmed from the circuit board, USB port or the wires that bring battery power to the circuit board, and there was no evidence that the camera was crushed or otherwise physically damaged prior to catching fire.
The investigator “strongly suspects” that the reset button became dislodged by the paper clip, leading to the explosion.
“The LE-5s have a recessed reset button that officers access by sticking a paper clip inside a small hole at the bottom of the camera,” said Tisch. “The officer involved in this incident reported attempting to use the paper clip, as he was instructed to do, to reset the camera two times on the Friday evening prior to the incident, which occurred then on his next tour on Saturday, Oct. 20.”
After the paper clip dislodged the button (called the microswitch by the investigator) two possibly things happened next, according to the report. The dislodged piece either scraped the lithium polymer battery, Tisch said, or once the microswitch was dislodged, the paper clip was able to pierce the battery.
The officer reported hearing a rattling sound inside the body camera before smelling smoke, which the forensic analysis says was likely the reset button loose inside the device.
New body camera model to replaced recalled devices
After the Oct. 20 incident, the NYPD called all 2,990 LE-5 model body cameras that had been deployed since August to 18 commands.
These NYPD commands will now be outfitted with LE-4 model cameras. More than 12,000 LE-4 body cameras have been deployed to other commands prior to the explosion.
The process to deploy new body cameras to those officers who previously had LE-5 models has already begun. Ten of the 18 commands will have the new models by Nov. 5 and the remaining eight will be outfitted with LE-4s by the end of the year.
Prior to Oct. 21, there were 19 NYPD commands throughout the city that had yet to receive any body cameras. These commands will be outfitted with Axon body cameras rather than Vievu models. Axon acquired Vievu in May 2018.
Those 19 commands will be completely outfitted with body cameras by February 2019.