Thousands of New York Police Department officers could be without body cameras after the commissioner issued a suspension of nearly 3,000 devices over safety concerns. The body-cam announcement comes as the department continues to face claims about racist practices.
A Vievu model LE-5 device exploded on Saturday (Oct. 20) and could have severely hurt an officer, the department said in a release. The officer was not hurt, but the incident, unfolding after the camera began to smoke, has prompted an investigation and recall of nearly 3,000 cameras.
“Last night, an officer retrieved a body-cam for deployment on a midnight tour and noticed there was smoke exiting from the bottom portal and immediately removed it. After it was safely removed, the device exploded. There were no injuries sustained. The incident revealed a potential for the battery inside the camera to ignite. The cause and scope of the defect are currently being investigated,” the NYPD release said.
Officers who wore that specific model of the LE-5 camera had to turn in the devices immediately. The officers reportedly can work without body cameras at this time.
There were a total of 2,990 LE-5 body cams being used in 16 NYPD commands around the city, according to CBS.
The explosion issue doesn’t affect other body cameras worn by NYPD officers, including the Vievu model LE-4 cameras. “This issue does not pertain to or in any way affect members equipped with Vievu model LE-4 body-worn cameras, and members of the service equipped with LE-4 cameras will continue to use them as required by the Patrol Guide,” the release said.
The news comes days after Eric Vassell, the father of NYPD shooting victim Saheed Vassell, voiced concerns over the department’s mistreatment of families of color affected by shootings. “This is the tactics of the NYPD to just [let] the families suffer for years and years and years,” Vassell said in a press conference last Tuesday. “I’ve seen them do that. They do all types of things to cause us to break down. It’s a game that they keep on playing with us over and over, wanting us to believe they’ll do good.”