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Body-Worn Cameras

NYPD Body-Worn Camera Program

What you need to know

All Police Officers, Detectives, Sergeants and Lieutenants regularly assigned to perform patrol duties throughout the city are equipped with body-worn cameras. The NYPD body-worn camera program is the largest in the United States with over 24,000 members of the Department equipped with body-worn cameras. The rollout of these cameras was conducted in three phases.

In April 2017, Phase 1 of the Department's body-worn camera program began, and by the end of 2017, approximately 1,300 police officers, working the evening shifts in 20 precincts across the city, were outfitted with cameras. This first phase supported a year-long study of the effects of the body-worn cameras.

In December 2017, Phase 2 of the body-worn camera rollout commenced equipping the balance of the officers on all shifts in every Precinct, Transit District and public housing Police Service Area citywide with cameras. This second phase was completed by March 2019 and resulted in more than 18,000 additional officers being equipped with cameras.

Phase 3 began in March 2019 – rolling out approximately 4,000 body-worn cameras to officers working in specialized units that perform patrol-oriented or support functions. Such units include the Emergency Services Unit, Highway Patrol, Strategic Response Group and Critical Response Command. The roll-out to specialty units was completed by August 2019. Additionally, the executives responsible for leading all of the commands equipped with body-worn cameras were also issued cameras during this phase.

Frequently Asked Questions About Body Cameras

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What are body-worn cameras?

Body-worn cameras are small battery-powered digital video cameras that police officers attach to their uniform shirts or winter jackets. Officers must manually activate the record function on the camera to begin recording. The recording capabilities of the cameras are consistent with the capabilities of human eyes and ears. In other words, the cameras are not capable of any enhanced recording capabilities such as night vision. At the end of their shift, officers place their cameras in a docking station in their command. Once docked, recorded videos are uploaded to a cloud based storage solution and the camera’s battery is recharged automatically.

All officers equipped with body cameras have received training on how the cameras function, how to use the video management software, as well as the NYPD’s body camera policies. As part of their training, officers also, participate in role-play scenarios in order to acclimate themselves to the proper use of the cameras.

What is the purpose of body-worn cameras?

The purpose of body-worn cameras is to record enforcement, investigative and other encounters between the police and the public. They provide a contemporaneous, objective record of these encounters, facilitate review of events by supervisors, foster accountability, and encourage lawful and respectful interactions between the public and the police.

The use of body-worn cameras has shown that cameras may help de-escalate potentially volatile encounters. The cameras may also provide important evidence in criminal and civil proceedings as well as resolving civilian complaints.

When are officers required to record video?

To balance the goals of the body-worn camera program with privacy concerns, officers will not record all interactions with the public. Officers must record certain events, including:

  • All uses of force
  • All arrests and summonses
  • All interactions with people suspected of criminal activity
  • All searches of persons and property
  • Any call to a crime in progress
  • Some investigative actions
  • Any interaction with emotionally disturbed people

Officers may not record certain sensitive encounters, such as speaking with a confidential informant, interviewing a sex crime victim, or conducting a strip search.

Will officers tell people that a camera is recording?

Officers must tell members of the public that they are being recorded unless the notification would compromise the safety of any person or impede an investigation. Officers do not need a person’s permission to start, or to continue, recording.

When may an officer turn the camera off?

Any events for which recording is required must be recorded from start to finish. If a member of the public asks an officer to turn off the camera, the officer may do so, but may continue recording if the officer thinks it unsafe or inadvisable to stop. Officers may not turn off the camera if a suspected perpetrator is still present on the scene.

How long will the NYPD keep the recordings?

The NYPD will retain all video recordings for 18 months. Video of arrests and other significant incidents will be retained longer.

When may officers view body-worn camera video?

In routine cases, officers will be allowed to view video before preparing reports and in preparation for a court proceeding. In officer–involved shootings, use-of-force cases, or when police misconduct is alleged, access to the video may be restricted and officers will only be able to view video at a time allowed by the supervisor in charge of the investigation. This includes before making an official statement in the course of the investigation. The technology does not enable officers to edit or delete any video evidence.

When does NYPD release body-worn video to other government entities?

If a video captures evidence related to a criminal case, the NYPD will turn the video over to the prosecutor with jurisdiction over the matter. Prosecutors will provide video to the defendant(s) in accordance with criminal discovery laws.

The NYPD routinely provides the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) with body-worn camera video in furtherance of investigations of alleged incidents of misconduct under their jurisdiction. To facilitate more efficient sharing of videos, the NYPD and CCRB drafted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the protocols for the search, review, and production of relevant body-worn camera video for cases in which CCRB has received a complaint from a member of the public against a member of the NYPD. Implementation of this MOU is pending the establishment of a secure space within the CCRB facility. Video provided to CCRB may be redacted to protect confidential information or comply with relevant statutes including the sealed records laws (e.g. Criminal Procedure Law section 160.50 – 55) which generally prohibit the release of certain records absent a court order or consent of the individual(s) depicted

Information regarding the number of videos provided and their impact upon investigations may be found in the CCRB annual and semi-annual reports found here

How can members of the public request body-worn camera video of an incident?

Members of the public can request video under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). The NYPD will provide video in response to a FOIL request unless otherwise prohibited by law. The video may contain audio and/or visual redactions to protect the privacy of people captured in the videos, and other protected material pursuant to FOIL and other applicable laws.

Request a body-camera video

Does the NYPD publish body-worn camera video?

The Department publicly releases body-worn camera video of critical incidents within 30 calendar days of an incident. In some cases, it may take more than 30 days if the investigation is complex, a court issues an order delaying or preventing release of the footage, or additional time is needed to allow a civilian depicted in the video, or their family, to view the video in advance. Critical incidents include the following:

  • An officer discharges a firearm and such discharge hits or could hit another person,
  • Use of force that results in death or serious physical injury to another,
  • Any incident which the Police Commissioner determines that the release of body-worn camera video will address vast public attention, or concern, or will help enforce the law, preserve peace, and/or maintain public order

Additionally, the Department may release other extrinsic evidence along with any relevant body-worn camera video if it may provide context for the incident and assist the viewer in understanding what lead up to the event as well as what transpired during the event. Video may be redacted (e.g., faces of civilian witnesses and bystanders blurred, etc.), as appropriate, to protect personal privacy and comply with all relevant laws, prior to being released to the public. Unedited video of a critical incident will be maintained, and provided to an appropriate investigating authority (e.g. District Attorney, etc.).

View body-worn camera videos published by the NYPD

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