Dozens of NYPD officers will begin wearing body cameras later this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city's top cop announced Wednesday.
Officers from Staten Island's 120th precinct, the Bronx's 40th precinct and Police Service Area No. 2, the housing bureau office tasked with patrolling public housing offices in Brooklyn, will all begin wearing small, clip-on cameras Friday as part of a $50,000 pilot program, de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at a news conference. Three more precincts will also begin wearing the cameras in the coming weeks.
“Body cameras are going to be an important additional step in the reforms that we’re undertaking,” de Blasio said.
The pilot program was ordered as part of the 2013 court decision that ruled the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk policy unconstitutional.
De Blasio said the three precincts rolling out the cameras were picked because they had the highest number of stop-and-frisks. Officers working in two of the commands -- the 120th and Public Service Area No. 2 -- were also involved in the deaths of unarmed men Eric Garner and Akai Gurley earlier this year.
De Blasio said the city and NYPD plan to experiment with the cameras over the next year and, if all goes well, they could budget for cameras for thousands more officers next year. De Blasio said the cameras add another layer of transparency to the city's police force, adding that the pilot program is "a sign of great hope and possibility" for the city.
Bratton said the department is still working out all the usage cases for the cameras, but said typically, officers will use them whenever they interact with a suspect, make a stop or respond to a scene. They also decided to ask officers assigned to public housing developments to turn them on whenever they make vertical patrols after an officer shot and killed Gurley in a stairwell in Brooklyn last month.
Bratton said that when an officer ends his shift, they'll plug the camera into a charging dock, and all the footage from their shift will be uploaded to NYPD databases.
City Public Advocate Letitia James has fought for the cameras since coming into office this year. She said the cameras will add another layer of accountability to the department and could help lower claims against the city.