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Rollout Of NYPD Body Cameras Postponed Amid Explosion Probe

October 23, 2018 - 4:21 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- The NYPD had hoped to equip most of the department with ViewU LE-5 body cameras by the end of the year – but then one blew up on Staten Island over the weekend.

Now the rollout of the cameras is on hold as an investigation into the explosion continues. The big question that needs to be answered: was the explosion a problem with just the one camera or was it caused by a manufacturer defect?

“Right now we have an inventory problem,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Jessica Tisch said.

Tisch says the older ViewU LE-4s are more reliable but not manufactured anymore.

The department could start using a different company’s cameras, but Tisch says that presents even more IT complications. 

“There are a lot of complexities associated with that, not least of which is managing a hybrid environment,” Tisch said.

Earlier this week, the NYPD said nearly 3,000 body worn cameras were being taken out of service after Saturday night's explosion.

An officer at the 121st Precinct on Staten Island was about to begin his shift late Saturday and put on his body camera when he noticed it had begun emitting smoke, according to the NYPD. He took the camera off and it suddenly exploded.

Officials said it appears that the battery in the new models can somehow catch on fire.

Right now, the department will wait to find out the results of the investigation to make any decisions.

“Our top priority is trying to get this program back on its feet,” Tisch said.

But the NYPD’s goal of getting a body camera on every officer by the end of the year appears to be up in flames.