Wall Street Journal, NY Daily News Quotes NYLPI on New NYPD Body Camera Video PolicyJune 18, 2020
NY Daily News: Vid of more NYPD shooting incidents to be automatically released under new de Blasio policy
By Shant Shahrigian
June 16, 2020
The city is expanding its policy for releasing NYPD body camera footage with a new requirement that recordings be released within 30 days of violent incidents — but the change leaves potential holes in the effort toward greater transparency.
The policy announced Tuesday by Mayor de Blasio has three criteria for automatically releasing the body cam recordings: When an officer fires their gun and a bullet hits someone or “could” hit someone; when an officer tases someone to death or causes “substantial bodily harm;” and when other use of force results in death or “great bodily harm.”
“That creates trust, that creates accountability, that says to the many, many good officers that they know the whole truth will come out from what they saw, from their literal perspective,” de Blasio said at a press conference.
“And it says to any officer who doesn’t yet fully understand their responsibility that they will be held accountable and there will be consequences,” he added.
The footage will first be shared with family members of those involved in use-of-force incidents, the mayor said, and will be made available online to the public within 30 days.
But the policy won’t apply retroactively, de Blasio said, and police will still be able to trim recordings at their discretion to avoid revealing the identity of bystanders and confidential informants.
But in past cases, the NYPD has edited out crucial scenes from incidents like the fatal police shooting of foreign exchange student Miguel Richards while he was having a mental health episode in September 2017.
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest fought in court to get key footage.
“It’s hugely disappointing that the mayor’s initiative allows the police department to edit footage and it’s also hugely disappointing that its not retroactive,” Marinda van Dalen, a senior attorney at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, told the Daily News.
The NYPD launched its bodycam program in 2017. The new policy on releasing was the latest in a series of steps de Blasio has taken since heated protests over the death of Minnesota man George Floyd convulsed the city earlier this month.
Gov. Cuomo signed legislation Tuesday requiring New York State Police officers to wear body cameras while on patrol and turn them on whenever they interact with the public or respond to a call.
The Wall Street Journal: New York City to Release Body-Camera Footage of Police Shootings
By Ben Chapman and Katie Honan
June 16, 2020
As part of a wave of law-enforcement reforms, the New York Police Department will release body-camera footage that captures an officer discharging a gun or Taser, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
The department already mandates that officers wear body cameras and has previously made footage of some police shootings available to the public. The new policy, effective immediately, stipulates the sharing of such video with the public and broadens the practice to include Taser discharges and other uses of force that result in death or substantial bodily harm. The rule requires the footage to be released within 30 days of the incident.
Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said the new protocol is meant to increase the NYPD’s transparency, among changes the department instituted following the death of George Floyd, a black man killed in police custody in Minneapolis. Mr. Floyd’s death has spurred large-scale protests against police brutality across the country, including New York City.
“We recognize the power of body-worn cameras, but body-worn cameras are only as powerful as the transparency that comes with them,” Mr. de Blasio said at a press conference.
Body-camera footage has become increasingly relevant in investigations into alleged police misconduct and in public debates over police reform.
The NYPD began equipping officers with body cameras in 2014. The rollout was completed in March 2019, with 24,000 officers now wearing the cameras, according to the NYPD. The department has been criticized for being slow to share footage with the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, a watchdog agency that investigates allegations of police misconduct.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement Tuesday that the new body-camera policy would provide more transparency.
“This new policy is in line with the vigorous reform agenda the NYPD has been propelling for more than six years,” he said.
Marinda van Dalen, a senior staff attorney at nonprofit New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, said the footage will be most useful to the public if published as quickly as possible in an unedited format. “We certainly applaud the mayor’s call for greater public access to body-worn camera footage,” Ms. van Dalen said.
Mr. de Blasio said Tuesday that additional reforms would be undertaken by the NYPD to increase accountability and build relationships with communities.
On Monday, the NYPD announced it would disband an anticrime unit, whose 600 plainclothes officers are being reassigned, according to police officials.
Last week, Mr. de Blasio said he would shift some funding from the NYPD to youth and social-service programs. The amount of money is being negotiated between the mayor and the New York City Council.
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