Policing Project’s Public Engagement Process Results in New NYPD Body Camera Policy

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The NYPD has released its new body camera policy, responding to public comments solicited through a process run by the Policing Project.  The policy will apply to a 1,000-camera pilot project scheduled to begin later this spring.  During the summer of 2016, the Policing Project reached out for public comment, receiving over 25,000 questionnaires and comments from some fifty organizations.  The Policing Project then prepared a report to the NYPD on the public comment, which also is being made public today. A separate report summarizing police officer feedback on the draft policy was prepared by the Marron Institute at NYU and is available here.

In response to public comments the NYPD changed a number of its practices, including requiring notification that the body cameras are on, recording in more instances (including protests and demonstrations), and making it somewhat easier to obtain the footage by filing a Freedom of Information Law request.  The NYPD declined to adopt other changes requested by the public – such as limiting the ability of officers to view footage before filing a report on a use of force.  The NYPD report is thorough in explaining why it did or did not change its policies.

NYPD Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill praised the Policing Project’s effort: “I am grateful to the skilled team at New York University that compiled feedback from tens of thousands of members of the public and our own police officers about body cameras and our proposed policy. The survey and thousands of responses was invaluable in our process.”

Brennan Center co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program Faiza Patel said, “the Policing Project played a vital role in soliciting and analyzing public input, which is critical when law enforcement implements new technologies. The Policing Project’s report to the NYPD reflects the many recommendations that the Brennan Center made in response to the proposed body-worn camera policy, and we are pleased to see that the NYPD incorporated at least some of those recommendations. We hope that the NYPD will continue to engage with civil society and community groups as it implements this policy and that the department makes a commitment to transparency regarding all of its technologies for surveillance.”

Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Darius Charney said, “We are glad that the public was able to provide input into such an important policing policy. And we hope that the report can serve as a tool for both advocates and policymakers going forward as we try to develop the best body camera policies that we can.”

The Policing Project at NYU Law is dedicated to bringing the ordinary processes of democratic governance and front-end accountability to policing.  We are working on projects all over the country to bring the community’s voice into the process of deciding the way in which it will be policed.  We also write best practices for policing agencies, and work with departments and data experts to conduct cost-benefit analysis of policing practices.