The explosion of a body camera at a Staten Island police station will delay the rollout of such cameras for the NYPD’s entire patrol force by only two months, Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology Jessica Tisch said last week.

The use of nearly 3,000 body cameras of the type that caught fire Oct. 20 was suspended.  Ms. Tisch said at the time that the department was likely to miss its deadline of equipping all 23,000 Police Officers, Sergeants and Lieutenants assigned to patrol duties in precincts and in transit and housing units with the cameras by the end of this year.

Coming in February…

However, she said Oct. 30 that replacement cameras had been obtained and that all officers should have the equipment by the end of February.

The explosion occurred when an officer who was preparing to go out on the midnight shift at the 121st Precinct in Staten Island noticed a problem with the camera and took it off, after which it caught fire, the NYPD said after the incident. The department hired an independent forensic investigator to figure out why.

Ms. Tisch said the investigator reported that the officer had used a paper clip, as instructed, to reset the device, which is powered by a lithium-ion battery.

“The cameras have a recessed reset button that officers access by sticking a paper clip inside a small hole at the bottom of the camera,” she said. “The investigator strongly suspects that in resetting the switch, the officer dislodged a piece of the polymer battery, or that once the switch was dislodged, the paper clip itself had direct access to the battery.”

The Camera Was Fine

Ms. Tish said the officer reported hearing a rattling noise before the explosion, making it likely that the reset button had come loose. The investigator found no evidence that the camera itself had been damaged, she said.

The cameras that were withdrawn from use were a model manufactured by Vievu that is called the LE-5. Ms. Tisch said they were replaced by an earlier model, the LE-4, in 10 of the 18 commands that had used the LE-5. The other eight commands will receive LE-4s by the end of the year, she said.

Nineteen commands that have not been assigned body cameras will receive by the end of February cameras made by Axon, the manufacturer of Tasers, which has acquired Vievu.


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