What to Know
- An investigation is underway after an NYPD officer noticed a body camera smoking and yanked it off; then the device ignited. The officer wasn't hurt but was taken to the hospital as a precaution
- The cameras in question are the Axon AB2, which represent less than 9% of the 23,000 body cameras deployed system-wide. Axon says it helped NYPD inspect all in use and pulled any in question from service
- The cause and scope of the defect are currently under investigation, but Axon says it doesn't believe there is a systemic issue with its AB2
The NYPD is pulling 2,000 body cameras from the field after one started smoking while an officer was wearing it a day ago and ignited when the officer took it off, police officials confirmed Wednesday.
Commissioner Dermot Shea directed the immediate examination of all Axon AB2 model cameras, which make up less than 9% of the 23,000 body cameras deployed department-wide, after Tuesday's incident to check for possible defects.
In this case, an officer assigned to the 34th Precinct was wearing that model camera and noticed smoke coming from the bottom portal. The cop immediately yanked it off. Then "the device ignited" according to the NYPD's statement.
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The officer wasn't hurt but was taken to a hospital out of an abundance of caution and has since been released, the department said.
According to the NYPD, Tuesday's incident revealed a potential issue with the battery inside the Axon AB2 model camera. The cause and scope of the defect are currently under investigation, but specialists who were deployed citywide Tuesday after the ignition found some problematic devices, officials said.
All officers who had been using Axon AB2 cameras have been told to stop using them immediately and return them to their commands for inspection. That model is currently deployed across 13 commands within the department. All of those cameras are expected to be inspected by the end of the day Thursday. The battery and back panel will be replaced in any case where there is a sign of an issue.
The NYPD was in the process of phasing out these cameras for the newer model, the Axon AB3. The department says the AB2 battery issue doesn't pertain to or in any way affect officers who are currently using that model, which represents more than 80% of the NYPD's deployed body cameras, police officials said.
"Those officers will continue to use them as required by the Patrol Guide," NYPD spokesperson detective Annette Shelton said in a statement. "Axon is conducting a forensic investigation and any further evidence will inform our plan of action."
Axon confirmed to News 4 in a statement that it received the report of a single incident of an AB2 body camera overheating. The camera involved was quarantined and expedited to a third-party lab for X-ray and material analysis. Results are expected in a few days.
"Axon has worked closely with the NYPD to better understand the root cause of this event, and to evaluate any potential risk to their officers and mitigate that risk as quickly as possible," the company said.
Axon says it teamed up with the NYPD to personally conduct the AB2 camera inspections across the 13 precincts that use them and removed any from service that appeared to have issues with their appearance or performances.
"These cameras were replaced with spare AB2 cameras, enabling all of NYPD’s commands to continue to operate and serve their communities without disruption," the statement said. "The Axon/NYPD team has completed their comprehensive inspection of all AB2s. We will continue to press forward with the investigation and will share all results with NYPD. At this time we do not believe this to be a systemic issue with the Axon AB2 camera product."