Nassau Police Body Camera Pilot Program Advances

Freeport Police Body Camera
A Freeport police officer, now a detective, pictured several months ago wearing a body camera on his right shoulder. (Credit; Freeport Police Department)

Thirty one Nassau County police officers will this summer begin testing body-mounted cameras as a part of a new pilot program that may later be expanded to the rest of the department.

Starting on Aug. 1, select officers in the First, Third and Fifth precincts will use three different camera models for three months at a time to help the department evaluate which ones are best, officials announced Monday.

“This pilot program will benefit members of the community and as well as our officers,” Acting Nassau County Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said.

Police departments nationwide are increasingly using the technology to improve the gathering of evidence used in investigations and prosecutions as well as increasing transparency in officers’ interactions with the public.

Nassau will be the second police department to begin using body cams on Long Island. The Freeport village police department recently launched the first such initiative on LI.

The communities that the testing Nassau officers patrol include Baldwin, Elmont, Great Neck, New Cassel, Roosevelt, Uniondale and Westbury.

At the conclusion of the $150,000 test, the Nassau police will use the experience to issue its recommendations to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and the county legislature.

Nassau police announced their plans to launch the pilot program in June 2014 hours after Democrats in the county legislature’s minority proposed legislation mandating that officers use such devices.

The proposal came a month after two officers were allegedly caught on camera beating a Westbury man during a traffic stop. One of those officers was later charged with and pleaded not guilty to assault charges.

“Transparency is the cornerstone to building public trust,” said Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport). “Bringing body camera technology to Nassau is about protecting the police officers that risk their lives to protect us while fostering confidence in all our relations with each and every community.”

The police department launched the pilot program in collaboration with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit the agency hired last year to address ethical issues after a string of recent scandals.

On eastern LI, Suffolk County police said they currently have no plans to follow Nassau’s lead.

“We recognize that other departments may start using them,” Suffolk police said in a statement. “We will be looking at how these departments handle a number of issues when it comes to body cameras including, legal, logistical, procedural and financial issues.”