Body cam blast prompts NYPD recall of nearly 3,000 devices

Body cam blast prompts NYPD recall of 3,000 devices

NEW YORK (NY1/Spectrum News/CNN) - The NYPD recalled 2,990 Vievu LE-5 body cameras from 16 commands across the city after one exploded.

The department owns 15,500 body cameras.

A photo shows a police body camera that exploded inside the 121 Precinct station house on Staten Island as a patrol officer prepared to head out for the midnight shift.

The officer noticed smoke coming out of the bottom of the device and took it off his shirt. He wasn’t injured.

In a statement, a department spokesperson said, “Nothing is more important than the safety of our officers, and equipping the NYPD with the best equipment is of paramount priority. All officers assigned LE-5 cameras were instructed to immediately remove the cameras and bring them back to their commands."

The cause is believed to be a battery issue. This doesn’t affect the older LE-4 body cameras, which are still in use.

The NYPD launched its body camera program in 2017 and is on track to equip all 22,000 patrol officers with cameras by the end of 2019.

The city’s largest police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, declined to comment on the incident, but the use of body cameras has been a sensitive issue with the union through the years.

The NYPD moved to adopt body cameras after retired U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered the department to test them as a way to curb stop-and-frisk searches of black and Latino men that she ruled unconstitutional in 2013.

The police union, which is fighting to block the public disclosure of encounters on police body cameras, won a major victory last month when the state’s appeals panel blocked the release of NYPD body camera footage until it hears arguments in November.

The union said the department’s release of footage is illegal and arbitrary.

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