BY SAM RAPPAPORT
Every single New York City police officer and detective on patrol will be outfitted with a body camera by the end of 2018, which is one year earlier than previously planned. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the expedited rollout on Tuesday, alongside Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
Mayor de Blasio lauded body cameras for ushering in a new era in policing by bolstering transparency and increasing accountability.
“By ensuring all patrol officers are outfitted with these essential, modern policing tools a year faster than originally planned, we’re helping to make New York City fairer faster, and growing trust between police and communities,” de Blasio said.
O’Neill credited the aptitude of the department’s technical and support staff for accelerating the program.
“We are on track to have all precinct, transit and housing commands citywide up and running with body cameras by the end of this year,” O’Neill affirmed.
In its preliminary budget, the de Blasio administration earmarked $5.9 million in fiscal year 2018, $12 million in fiscal year 2019 and $9.5 million in fiscal year 2020 for the accelerated rollout of the body cameras. The funds will go toward purchasing body cameras as well as upgrading associated information technologies.
The NYPD has deployed 2,470 body cameras as of Jan. 26. That number will total 18,000 by the end of the year.
Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) voiced support for the expedited body camera rollout, yet she remained hesitant to declare the program a cure-all.
“Body cameras are a tool for meaningful reform and are critical for both civilians and officers engaged in encounters,” Adams said. “While the body camera policy leaves room for improvement, the expedited increase in cameras is a step in the right direction.”
Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), who is the chairman of the Committee on Public Safety, said that the faster rollout would help mend the of-fraught relationship between police officers and the communities they serve.
“Speeding up the timeline for body cameras on all patrol officers is a big step towards improving police-community relations across the city,” Richards said.