The Cost of Improper Procedures: Using Police Body Cameras to Reduce Economic and Social Ills POLICY REPORT: New York City Public Advocate Letitia James


In light of the information noted above, Public Advocate James seeks to restore confidence in the
NYPD by ensuring transparency and fairness while we preserve law and order. Following a pilot to
ensure functionality, the NYPD must move to have body-worn cameras on all patrolling officers to
record stops. To that end, the Office of Public Advocate recommends the following:

Implement a Meaningful NYPD Body Camera Pilot
In order to ensure a meaningful sample, NYPD must implement a body camera pilot that includes
at least 15% of police officers on patrol, and all participating officers must record every single stop
conducted while on patrol. Over time, the initiative must expand to include all precincts in the City.

Precincts with High Complaints of Misconduct Must Wear Body Cameras
A review of CCRB reports demonstrates that complaints of NYPD conduct originate from certain
precincts at a significantly higher rate than the City average. For example, while the average
number of complaints for each police precinct City-wide last year was roughly 69, the 75th
Precinct in Brooklyn received 266 – almost four times more than the City average. To ensure
that the body camera pilot is as effective as possible, the pilot must take place in the precincts
responsible for the most civilian complaints and high rates of crime.

Protect Process and Civil Liberties
The City – working with union officials and advocates – must craft a transparent policy of how
and when cameras will be activated (manual vs. automatic), who has access to them, how long a
release request will take and to whom, length of storage time and how footage will be securely
stored. It is imperative to protect civil liberties and the rights of both police officers and the
public. Additionally, footage must be protected to ensure that fair trials can take place, without
jeopardizing a case.

Ensure Expeditious Investigations
On average, a substantiated CCRB investigation takes over one year to complete, and this rate has
slowed even further in recent years. As a result, statutes of limitations are more likely to expire in
cases where CCRB substantiates claims, leaving victims with no recourse or justice. Additionally,
even where CCRB substantiates a claim in a timely fashion, NYPD has the authority to disregard
CCRB’s determination. The City must provide CCRB with the resources and authority necessary to
ensure that investigations of misconduct are conducted competently and in a timely fashion.


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