Bogged-Down NYPD Body Cam Plan Faces New Obstacles

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A court-ordered pilot program for New York police officers to begin wearing body cameras could be stalled this week by legal challenges from civil liberties lawyers and police labor unions, reports the New York Times. The lawyers said there were serious flaws in the draft policy that spells out when officers must use the cameras and how the resulting footage should be handled. Darius Charney, who represents the plaintiffs in the stop-and-frisk case that prompted the court order, said lawyers would challenge the program in federal court in Manhattan, seeking to broaden the circumstances in which officers must record and limit when officers may review footage.

In addition, police unions representing captains, lieutenants and detectives plan to ask the court to block the program temporarily and force the NYPD to negotiate over the additional responsibilities the program will impose on supervisors. Body cameras have become a mainstay of policing in much of the country, but their use is off to a balky start in New York. “Being the largest department in the country, they have the opportunity here to be leaders on policy,” said Harlan Yu, a principal at Upturn, a consulting firm that evaluates police body-camera policies. Instead, he said, the department chose guidelines that “tend to favor the department and its officers and not rules of the road and safeguards that will protect the community when cameras are used.”

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