NYPD Goes to the Public for Feedback on Its New Body-Camera Policy

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 A police body camera is seen on an officer during a news conference on the pilot program involving 60 NYPD officers dubbed 'Big Brother' at the NYPD police academy in the Queens borough of New York, December 3, 2014.
Photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters/Corbis

This fall, the NYPD will outfit 1,000 cops in select precincts with body cameras. The department released its proposed guidelines on Wednesday for the pilot project, outlining potential rules for when officers will be required to wear them and for how long, and who can see the recordings. But in a pretty radical move, NYPD is also asking the public for input on the camera policy via an online survey. “We have never done this,” NYPD Assistant Deputy Commissioner Nancy Hoppock told the Daily News. “We have never drafted a policy and said to the community ‘Tell us what you think about our proposed policy before we finalize it.’”  

The survey is available until the end of July, and NYU’s Policing Project will compile the data to present to the NYPD. The questionnaire — which is available in English and Spanish right now, and will be available in six more languages, including Chinese and Haitian Creole, soon — asks respondents questions about when officers should wear cameras, if cops should tell people when the camera is on, if people can ask an officer to turn off the camera, and who can see the footage. 

A handful of NYPD officers in three precincts are already wearing body cameras ahead of this more formalized policy. One of the biggest sticking points then, and now, is how long the cops will be required to keep these recordings, and what someone has to do to obtain them. In the current proposal, the NYPD says they’ll keep all recordings for at least six months, but longer in certain circumstances such as arrest (until the case is over) or use of force (three years), among other situations. To see these videos, the NYPD is proposing that members of the public apply through the Freedom of Information Act, unless an individual is accusing a particular officer of misconduct.