Experts say that police officers’ use of body-worn cameras can demonstrate a willingness on behalf of police departments to be transparent to the communities they serve and to have greater accountability, which can improve relationships with citizens and enhance safety. But body cameras don’t have much use if they explode.
That is what happened in New York City on Oct. 20, when an officer retrieved a body camera 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,” according to an NYPD statement. “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, according to to the NYPD.
The specific model at issue is the Vievu model LE-5 body-worn camera. Out of an abundance of caution, the NYPD has stopped using and distributing that model. According to USA Today, about 3,000 cameras out of the 15,000 deployed through the department were affected.
“We had planned until [Sunday] to continue to roll out the LE-5 model as part of our deployment,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology Jessica Tisch said during a press conference on Oct 22, according to StateScoop. “We were going to give a body camera to every police officer, sergeant and lieutenant in every patrol, transit and housing numbered command by the end of the calendar year.”