There will be a new set of eyes added to the streets of Jamaica.
The 103rd Precinct will be part of the new NYPD pilot program to test the use of body cameras on police officers. Six precincts throughout the five boroughs are part of this system. Their selection was determined by which precincts had the highest number of stop and frisks.
Nine officers in the 103rd Precinct will be part of the program. There will be one camera per officer per squad to start out. There are three squads per shift in the precinct and, depending on the time, there will always be at least one cop with a body camera on patrol and as many as three depending on patrol schedules.
“I think cameras are a good thing,” said one officer from the precinct. “It’s a great idea and gives a different perspective of what is actually happening out there.”
The cameras are hands free, one on the torso and one over the ear. The officer will have to pull down the shutter covering the lens to turn the camera on whenever he or she is making a stop or arrest.
The pilot program was introduced by Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton on Dec. 3, just before the grand jury decided to not indict the officer in the Eric Garner case.
“Body cameras are going to be an important additional step in the reforms that we’re undertaking,” de Blasio said. “And I think that step is going to greatly increase the confidence of the people in their relationship with the NYPD.”
Phil Craig, a reverend at the Greater Springfield Community Church in Jamaica, said he believes that the body cameras will only be a good thing if they are used for the protection of the people.
“I hope they will be used for the protection of the people and not for the persecution of them,” said Craig. “We need to take a real good look on how [the police] are handling community relations.”
Officers at the 103rd Precinct are still unsure of when they will receive the body cameras. If the three-month pilot program works well, the department will expand the number of body cameras on the streets, possibly until all 35,000 police officers have one.
“I have always been in favor of cameras,” said the police officer at the 103rd Precinct. “I think things are going to change.”