NYPD Body-Worn Camera Proposed Policy: Fact Sheet

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NYPD Body-Worn Camera Proposed Policy: Fact Sheet

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) plans to assign approximately 1,000 body-worn cameras to officers in certain precincts throughout the city. This is part of a one-year pilot program to determine whether body-worn cameras can help to encourage lawful and respectful police-citizen interactions and improve both officer and public safety.

This fact sheet summarizes the NYPD’s proposed policy on body-worn cameras. It addresses:

  • activation
  • notification
  • deactivation
  • retention
  • public access

Here is a link to the full proposed policy.

Activation: When Are Officers Required to Record?

Under the NYPD’s proposed policy, officers must record:

  • Any use of force.
  • All arrests, summonses, searches of persons and property, and any stop or frisk.
  • When responding to a crime in progress.
  • When patrolling inside a New York Housing Authority (NYCHA) building, or a building enrolled in the Trespass Affidavit Program (TAP).
  • When transporting a prisoner or any person in police custody to a police station, hospital, or jail.
  • When interacting with someone who may be experiencing an emotional disturbance.

Officers may also record anytime they think it would be useful to do so.

Officers may not record in the following situations:

  • Internal police matters, e.g. staff meetings, trainings, and administrative activities.
  • Sensitive police-citizen encounters, e.g. when speaking with a confidential informant, interviewing a victim of a sex crime, or conducting a strip search.
  • Inside courthouses or medical facilities.
  • At public protests or demonstrations.

Notification: Will Officers Tell Citizens That a Camera is Recording?

Whenever it is safe and practical to do so, officers are encouraged (but not required) to tell members of the public when they are being recorded. However, officers do not need a person’s permission to start or continue recording.

Deactivation: When Can Officers Turn the Camera Off?

Once an officer turns the camera on, the officer must continue to record until the incident is over.

If a member of the public asks the officer to turn off the camera, the officer is allowed to do so. However, if the officer does not think it is safe or advisable to stop recording, the officer does not have to agree to such a request and can keep recording.

Retention: How Long Will the NYPD Keep Recordings?

The NYPD will keep all video recordings for a minimum of 6 months. Certain videos will be kept longer:

  • Use of force: 3 years
  • Any adversarial police-citizen encounter: 18 months
  • Video related to a CCRB complaint: 18 months
  • Arrest: Until the case is over
  • Video related to an ongoing criminal or civil case: until the case is over
  • Evidence of a felony (with no arrest made): 5 years
  • Evidence of a misdemeanor (with no arrest made): 3 years
  • Any other encounter (e.g. stop, witness interview): 6 months

Access: Who Gets to See the Videos?

Officers:

  • Officers will be allowed to view their own body-worn camera recordings.
  • If a body-worn camera captures a significant use of force, the officer involved will be allowed to look at the video before making a sworn statement, but only with supervisor approval.
  • Note: Police Officers will not be able to edit or delete footage from body-worn cameras.

Members of the Public:  

  • Freedom of Information Law: Members of the public will be able to request video from NYPD using the Freedom of Information Law. NYPD will provide video to the extent allowed by law.
  • Members of the public generally will be allowed to view video recordings of an incident before making a formal complaint against an officer.
  • However, if the video captures evidence related to a criminal case, the NYPD will turn the video over to the prosecutor’s office. Prosecutors will provide video to the defendant in accordance with criminal discovery laws.
  • If a camera records a high-profile incident—such as an officer-involved shooting—the NYPD will work with the Attorney General or District Attorney to decide whether it is possible to make the video public without harming a criminal investigation or interfering with a person’s right to a fair trial.

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