Contact: Mandela Jones 347-463-9129

CPR Criticizes Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill for Advancing Inferior Body Camera Policy That Undermines Transparency

In response to the NYPD beginning the court-mandated body camera pilot program with an NYPD policy that disregarded public input and best transparency practices, Communities United for Police Reform released the following statement from spokesperson Shelby Chestnut.

“Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill have disregarded the public’s demands for police accountability by advancing an inferior and regressive body camera policy that undermines transparency and accountability. There’s no excuse for New York City to have a second-rate policy that omits recording of critical policing encounters, protects abusive cops rather than the public, and obstructs New Yorkers' access to footage while allowing officers control and access – even when they are the subject of police brutality complaints. Given that New York City is beginning this process after so many other cities, it should be taking the best of others’ policies, not the worst. It’s yet another example of Mayor de Blasio going backwards on NYPD accountability and transparency, turning his back on communities and trying to conceal that with stale rhetoric. It remains essential that New Yorkers continue to CopWatch, observing and documenting police abuse and brutality, because the NYPD body camera program (through this policy) is not designed to address police abuse or hold abusive officers accountable.”

Loyda Colon, Co-Director of Justice Committee said: “Predictably, the NYPD has once again proved its commitment to secrecy and protecting abusive police officers through its BWC pilot. By allowing officers to review footage before writing their reports (while not giving civilians the same access), giving officers miles of leeway about when to turn on and off the cameras, and shielding them from any real consequences for misusing the cameras, the pilot becomes just another tool in the NYPD's arsenal for surveillance and abuse. As an organization that trains people to monitor and document abusive policing, we call on all New Yorkers to turn their cameras and phones on the police as a countermeasure to this horrendous program.”

Alice Fontier, managing director of the criminal defense practice at The Bronx Defenders, stated: “This program had the potential to be a tool of transparency and police accountability, but in its current form it can only exacerbate the current crisis in police-community relations. As public defenders we’re particularly concerned by the fact that officers will be permitted to view camera footage before submitting their reports. This undermines the original goal of using cameras as a check on police misconduct and puts people at a tremendous disadvantage if they want to see justice in court.”

Kumar Rao, Senior Staff Attorney at Center for Popular Democracy, said: “We are disappointed that the NYPD’s Body Worn Camera Proposal is moving forward today despite serious and significant objections from the communities most impacted by the policy.  We join CPR in continuing to demand police reforms that actually advance transparency and accountability, and not perpetuate unjust, punitive, and ineffective law enforcement practices.”

Monifa Bandele, VP and Chief Partnership & Diversity Officer of MomsRising stated: “The NYPD's current body camera policy erodes public trust by protecting officers who are causing harm. Police should be protecting our communities, not hurting them and cutting corners to protect abusive officers chips away at any sense of police accountability and transparency.”




About Communities United for Police Reform: Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and policing practices based on cooperation and respect– not discriminatory targeting and harassment. CPR brings together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those unfairly targeted the most by the NYPD. CPR is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.

Topics: Police Body-Worn Cameras