By Alison Fox
NEW YORK — Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Thursday the department is "actively looking" at equipping officers with body-worn cameras, the strongest statement of support he has made for implementing the technology in New York since becoming police commissioner here.
The cameras have already been implemented in several cities, including Los Angeles where Bratton led the police department before coming back east.
"It's a technology that I support strongly," he said at a news conference inside police headquarters on Thursday. "It's a technology that is needed in American to help deal with so many of the events that we're seeing."
Recently, Public Advocate Letitia James proposed a pilot program to implement the camera technology. It would cover 15% of police precincts with the highest rates of crimes and civilian complaints and would cost about $5 million.
Bratton said he has been considering the cameras since the first day he took office. He likened the technological advancement to the same way "two-way radios became common place in the '70s" and "semi-automatic weapons became very much available to police to deal with the rising crime in the '80s".
"And I would fully expect that before I leave as police commissioner, this department will be probably the best technology equipped department in America," he added.
James said the program would go far toward providing both transparency and accountability for the NYPD. The program would also give civilians another way to fight police misconduct, she said, as well as protect police from false claims.
"Today's announcement that the NYPD is taking steps toward this goal is an important development," James said in a statement. "Today's announcement that the NYPD is taking steps toward this goal is an important development. But the success of a pilot program can only be achieved by establishing clear rules and procedures with respect to camera operation and data collection. I look forward to working with the administration to make this proposal a reality."
Last year, Patrolman's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch called the cameras "an encumbrance" and said he didn't support it. Most recently, Lynch said he is on the fence.
"We are reserving our decision on body cameras until we see some real evidence of their effectiveness and impact on the officers who carry them," he has said in a statement.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Bratton said he expects an official announcement about what the department plans to do with the cameras soon.
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