75th Precinct to begin body camera training next week
There are mixed emotions surrounding the NYPD’s new body camera pilot program, but the 75th Precinct’s top cop, Inspector Michael Lipetri, is excited about the cameras’ impending arrival.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Lipetri said at Wednesday night’s 75th Precinct Community Council meeting. Lipetri’s precinct is located in East New York, where the recent death of Akai Gurley —who was unarmed when he was shot by a probationary NYPD officer — has prompted tension between the community and police.
“Obviously this increases transparency and, quite frankly, the officers that are wearing the body cameras have volunteered to wear the cameras,” Lipetri said.
Lipetri said officers from the 75th Precinct will undergo training for the cameras next week and he expects that they will be in use in about two weeks. He warned that as this is a pilot program, there may be some kinks. Potential issues include figuring out how to store the data coming from the cameras, and how and when to use them.
“There will be an officer working all hours of the day, every day, wearing a body camera,” Lipetri said. “It’s going to start out small, probably just one officer per shift; there has to be a lot of data stored and they have to figure things out.”
As few details were articulated at the meeting, those who stopped to talk with the Brooklyn Eagle at the council meeting expressed some skepticism, but all added that the cameras are necessary in an area where an increasing number of people are distrusting of the NYPD.
Lipetri was not certain of how many officers would wear the cameras during the pilot program, but said it would be a small amount — “at least one” during each shift.
A number of people showed up to the meeting hoping to obtain information about how the precinct was handling the case of Gurley, the 28-year-old who was shot, allegedly by accident, by officer Peter Liang in a stairwell at the Louis H. Pink Houses last month. To community members’ disappointment, Lipetri said he could not comment on the situation, as it is an active investigation.
Crime is up the 75th Precinct over the last 28 days compared to the same period a year ago, Lipetri said.
Rapes account for the biggest increase, while the incidence of murder in the area is the same as what it was last year over the same 28-day period. The only category for which crime has decreased is grand larceny auto, but many cars are still targets of break-ins.
Lipetri asserted that his precinct has done a good job of making arrests. There was a murder on Pitken Ave. last month and cops arrested a suspect “within 10 minutes” and detectives were able to arrest a second suspect later in the week. Cops also arrested somebody immediately after a shooting last month.
With the holiday shopping season underway, Lipetri said that the 75th Precinct has a “holiday plan” in place that includes putting more officers in commercial spots, especially at the Gateway Mall and other main thoroughfares. Still, he urged, people need to use caution when out shopping.
“When you go out shopping take care to watch over your valuables,” Lipetri said. “Especially if you leave anything in your car, they are going to go for it. Don’t even leave your phone charger because they’ll think that you left your phone in the glovebox.”
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