New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that the city is "absolutely committed" to testing a body camera pilot program for police officers.
"The pilot's going to tell us a lot," said de Blasio. "It's going to tell us whether it's something we can use on a bigger scale or it's something that's going to take a lot more time to use on a bigger scale. We're going to have to find that out objectively," he said.
Public Advocate Letitia James recently re-proposed the pilot program to increase transparency after several incidents involving police brutality were caught on video, including the killing of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who suffocated after police put him in a chokehold, and a Brooklyn woman who was dragged half-naked out of her apartment by police and left in the hallway.
The program would outfit 15 percent of the city’s most active police precincts (based on crimes and civilian complaints) with cameras, costing about $5 million.
The use of body cameras has helped decrease police brutality in other cities. The Guardian reports that a Cambridge University study found a 59 percent reduction in use of force by officers in Rialto, Calif. just one year after they began wearing cameras. That same study also shows complaints against the department dropped by 88 percent.
New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton joined de Blasio and James in giving his support to the technology. Bratton said that outfitting officers with the body-worn cameras is “needed in America to help deal with so many of the events that we're seeing."