Police reform activists urge NYPD to fix body camera policies before launching the program Tweet email

April 20, 2017
Graham Rayman
New York Daily News

Activists continued to hammer away at the NYPD’s body camera program Thursday.

Outside City Hall, groups affiliated with Communities United for Police Reform demanded that the pilot program — slated to begin next week and eventually involve 1,000 officers in 20 precincts — be halted until changes are made.

The groups said the guidelines don’t require cops to activate their cameras for all types of interactions with the public, particularly low-level encounters.

“Police officers must record from the beginning,” said Marquise Jenkins of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Cops can also view their footage before filing reports on an encounter with the public — something critics say would allow them to tailor their statements to the recordings.

“It’s supposed to be a check and this defeats the purpose,” said David Rankin, lawyer for the group. “We can do body cameras right, and this is not that.”

They also object to a guideline that requires the public to file a Freedom of Information request with the NYPD to get footage.

“The NYPD is notorious for denying and delaying access to such requests,” the group said.

On Wednesday, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a legal challenge in federal court, calling for the NYPD to change its policy to remove a line stating the cameras would be used to “provide evidence for criminal prosecutions.”

The center also criticized the NYPD for failing to include comments from 25,000 people who responded to a survey about the policy.

On Thursday, Communities United for Police Reform filed an amicus brief asking Judge Analisa Torres to review the policy.

“Major flaws in the proposal will, if implemented, undermine reform efforts and instead provide mechanisms to protect abusive officers rather than the public,” the letter to Torres states.

The city’s police unions have said that they’ll seek a temporary restraining order to block the program.

The guidelines for police use of the cameras were laid out in an eight-page internal memo.

Peter Zimroth, the federal monitor appointed after a 2013 ruling that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy was unconstitutional since it targeted minorities, has already asked Torres to allow the program to move forward as is.

“If a lawsuit is filed, we will review it and respond accordingly,” the NYPD said in a statement.