NYPD to be outfitted with video cameras following “stop-and-frisk” ruling
posted Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 1:34 PM EDT
Earlier this week, a federal judge ruled that New York City's controversial stop-and-frisk program was unconstitutional, calling it "indirect racial profiling" due to it disproportionately targeting black and Hispanic individuals. As part of U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin's ruling, the judge ordered that the NYPD would have to trial a program of outfitting police officers with wearable cameras to keep an eye on their interactions.
The ruling states that the department has to trial the program in the precinct of each borough with the most stop-and-frisks in 2012. The cameras would be worn by the officers, and activated before interactions with the public, providing a clear record of what occurred. Ideally, it would provide the police with protection from false claims, and also the population protection from overly aggressive officers.
The photography community is probably more aware than most of how many police officers react to being recorded on the job. Hardly a week goes by where we don't see a story about a journalist, or even just someone with a cellphone camera, recording the police and then getting in trouble for it. Police abusing their power have arrested photographers, demanded files be deleted, and even damaged equipment.
While New York City would be the most prominent city to roll out such requirements, it wouldn't be the first. The Wall Street Journal notes that Fort Worth, TX, and Rialto, CA have used similar programs, which have resulted in a significant drop in complaints about use of force.
However, since the cameras could be turned on and off at will, an officer who really wanted to get away without being on record would be able to find away. But for the vast majority of situations, having the whole interaction on camera would probably serve the greater good.