Body Worn Video Steering Group
Bill Bratton, Commissioner of the New York Police Department has openly stated that citizens filming police to monitor their behaviour can actually be conducive to “agitating the situations”. As police body cameras have sought to establish trusts within communities, organised groups such as Cop Watch have been accused of being intrusive and preventing officers from performing their duties.
“The cameras are everywhere, but when they start literally getting in your face, interrupting arrests, it starts to become problematic,” Bratton said.
To highlight the problem Bratton illustrates the point with a video showing cops as they responded to a report of an assault in a Bronx park, recorded a man just a few feet from the police with a knife behind his back. The officers never saw the weapon because they were more focused on being recorded, Bratton said.
“There was a potential danger to the cops that was concealed because of everyone and their brother in their face with their cameras,” Bratton said.
“We are trying to train our officers about not interfering with people trying to film them, but it becomes very difficult where there are 10 to 15 people with cameras in your face intervening with your ability to make your arrest,” Bratton said.
“There are so many cop-haters out there. Everybody wants to get that camera out, and not record the good things that are happening. They are all trying to incite or record an officer stepping out of line.”
Co-director of The Justice Committee Loyda Colon called Bratton’s remarks “outrageous and offensive.”
“Bratton’s mischaracterization of this practice (cop-watching) raises serious questions about why he wants to avoid public scrutiny and demonstrates his unwillingness to take responsibility for his officers’ disrespect of and violence against our communities,” Colon added.
While Bratton has supported the idea of NYPD officers wearing body cameras, he has also said body cameras are not “the cure-all they’re represented to be.”