While the NYPD‘s body camera program is still in its pilot stage, with the police force looking at various logistical, operational and legal issues, the department is moving forward to put a security camera in every police van by the end of 2016.
The initiative will cost almost $250,000 in total — $2,100 for each of the 110 police vans, according to the Daily News.
All future van purchases will come equipped with cameras.
The NYPD denies that the van initiative was influenced by the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a broken neck last year while riding unrestrained in the back of a Baltimore police van. He died a week later, on April 19, 2015, and his death was ruled a homicide.
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“This is not a direct result of the Freddie Gray situation but we wanted to take a look at prisoner safety and at officer safety,” says Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis, NYPD’s top spokesman. “A lot of times you have a lot of prisoners in the back of the van and no officer. We have to worry about keeping an eye on them; there’s also the possibility of an escape.”
To avoid injuries, police are told to help arrested suspects into and out of the vehicles because they are high off the ground, and suspects are rear-cuffed and sometimes wearing leg restraints.
The surveillance cameras will record during the course of the ride, whether it is from a drug bust to a precinct or a precinct to a courthouse. It wasn’t clear how long the footage would be stored on file.