NY state police to launch first body camera pilot program

NYSP is the largest state LE agency in the nation that does not have body or dashboard cameras

Amanda Fries
Times Union

ALBANY — State Police are offering few details about their plan to launch a pilot program that would equip state troopers with body cameras in New York.

Kevin Bruen, first deputy superintendent for the State Police, said the pilot program, which was announced Monday, will begin “imminently” and later clarified that troopers would be equipped with body cameras by the end of the year.

When reached Tuesday for more details, a State Police spokesperson said they are “still being worked out.”

New York remains one of the few states where the primary law enforcement agency does not have body or dashboard cameras, a nationwide Associated Press survey found. New York State Police is the largest agency without cameras. Hawaii, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts also do not have them.

It is unclear how many of the 5,100 sworn members of the force would be equipped with body cameras during the pilot program as well as whether it would be launched state-wide, or only in select regions.

State Police say they once had VHS cameras, and later digital cameras on a limited number of vehicles, but funding shortages and "costly maintenance" led to the end of their use.

Body cameras have been hailed for promoting transparency between law enforcement and the community, ensuring police are held accountable as well as being an effective tool for investigations.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has called on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers to equip State Police with body cameras. An executive order signed in 2015 directs the state’s attorney general to investigate when police cause the death of unarmed civilians.

Legislation introduced late last year by state Sen. Kevin Parker and state Assemblywoman Latrice Walker would equip troopers with the cameras and also outlined when state troopers should record their on-duty interactions.

Under the legislation, body cameras would start recording immediately before a state trooper leaves their patrol vehicle to interact in a situation or when they pull someone over. It also allows troopers to record anytime they want to document their time on duty and stop recording during a strip search or talk with a confidential informant.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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