Civilians increasingly include video evidence in complaints against New York Police Department officers, the Wall Street Journal reports. The New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board said 794 of the 4,426 complaints it closed last year included some form of video evidence, an increase from just 43 closed complaints with video evidence out a 4,268 total in 2012. Civilian recordings of police activity have led to investigations of alleged overuse of force by officers, with many police departments requiring officers to wear body cameras to aid in making investigations more accurate.
The New York board reported that 2 percent of the 15,006 complaints it closed between Jan. 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2016, included allegations of police interfering with civilian recordings of their activity. The board said 28 percent of such allegations were substantiated, meaning the organization found that an officer blocked or attempted to block the video recording. Civilian recordings are protected by the First Amendment and help increase transparency in cases of alleged police misconduct, the study said. “Video evidence is a very important tool for us in making those determinations so it is important for us to preserve video to make sure we can get an accurate picture of what is going on on the street,” said board director Jonathan Darche.