Some members of the New York City Department have already begun wearing body cameras, as part of a city pilot program to reduce tension between citizens and officers. Officers from five precincts and one Brooklyn housing unit will wear the cameras. According to the Los Angeles Times, “the precincts were chosen because they were among those that reported a high number of “stop-and-frisk” incidents, or random police stops of pedestrians. And, according to the New York Observer, the pilot program is expected to run for three months at a cost of $50,000. Here are a few frequently asked questions about the program:
When did the program start and who will wear the cameras?
The pilot program began on December 5th, with police officers from five precincts, one in each borough, wearing the body cameras.
Which precincts will have officers wearing the camera?
The 120th precinct on Staten Island
The 40th precinct in the Bronx
The 23rd precinct in Manhattan
The 103rd Precinct in Queens
The 75th Precinct in Brooklyn
The Police Service Area 2 in Brooklyn, which is dedicated to patrolling 42 housing developments.
How many officers altogether will wear the body camera?
A total of 60 volunteer officers will wear the cameras.
What cameras are being used?
The pilot program will test two different types of cameras, manufactured by VieVu and Taser International. The cameras are the VieVu LE3 and the Axon Flex by Taser.
Axon Flex: This camera comes as a set that includes a POV camera and a controller. The POV camera is connected to the controller with a wire. The controller unit allows the officer to start, stop, or buffer recordings. Buffering allows the police officer to keep a recording of an event that took place 30 seconds prior to hitting the start button. The equipment has a 12-hour battery life and less than six hours of recharging time.
The Axon Flex camera has 8 GB non-removable storage space with approximately four hours of video storage under the highest quality of recording, and 13-hours of storage under the lowest quality of recording. If the camera is paired with GPS-capable smartphone, it will record GPS coordinates too. The recording device also has an adjustable volume.
VieVU LE3: This one has a five-hour recording time and comes with an optional 12-hour battery pack. It carries 16 GB of internal memory, weights 2.8 ounces, and is waterproof.
The VieVuLE3 doesn’t have wires but has an optional external battery pack, more memory than the previous VieVu model, and doesn’t need space on the gun belt.
How do officers use the equipment?
Axon Flex: The Axon Flex can be mounted to Oakley Flak Jacket eyeglasses. It can also be placed on the collar, hat, or helmet. The recording device located on the eyeglasses or collar is connected with wires to a controller that is clipped to a belt or clothing. When police officers double press the EVENT button to start recording, a video buffer allows the camera to keep a recording of events 30 seconds prior to hitting the on button; However, the officer must make sure his camera is on buffering mode, and the buffer recording does not include audio.
Unfortunately, in order for the camera to record, a police officer is required to manually turn on the recorder. According to Taser, the AXON device keeps a log of when the officer turns the camera on or off. If the camera is full, it stops recording.
VieVU LE3: With the VieVu LE3, a police officer can attach the camera to his or her clothing. According to policemag.com, “the 68-degree field of view isn’t ultra wide, but it does a nice job of capturing what’s in front of you.” To turn the camera on, you slide open the lens cover. While policemag.com prefers the slide cover of the VieVU LE3 to begin recording to other devices, “you have to eyeball it to make sure it is oriented properly.”
The VieVU LE3 also has a mute button for its audio on its video recording camera.
How is the information stored?
Axon Flex: Taser International provides its Evidence.com cloud-based service to download evidence recorded on the Axon Flex. Officers can use a smartphone app to download the information immediately.
VieVU LE3: The data on the camera is recorded with an embedded date and stamp. Police officers will use Net Transcript software to upload recoding as encrypted footage into a secure database either on a computer located at the police department of to a secure USB. The camera’s software is compatible with Windows XP and Vista 7 and 8.
The city will use cloud storage to store recording and audio obtained from NYPD body cameras.
For more information about the NYPD body cameras, please visit: