Brooklyn Boro

Brooklyn leads the city in requests for NYPD body camera footage

July 23, 2019 Jeffery Harrell
A body camera. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

Brooklyn has not only consistently produced more complaints of police misconduct than any other borough — it also leads the city in requests for footage from body-worn camera footage.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board released a report earlier this month showing that the NYPD has failed to meet requests for release of body-worn camera footage in cases of alleged misconduct.

“It does a disservice for the entire body-worn camera program to lag behind and not make this footage public,” said the CCRB’s chairperson Frederick Davie. He stressed the footage needed to be released so “we can carry out our mandate that the charter of the city of New York has given us.”

The CCRB, an independent body that investigates allegations of police misconduct, reported that roughly a third of all requests for body camera footage since 2018 came out of Brooklyn.

Nearly 788 requests for body camera footage have gone unmet this year, and more than half of those requests are more than 30 days old.

In Brooklyn, nearly 1,500 requests for footage have been made since 2018.

According to the watchdog agency, Brooklyn has led the city in complaints of police misconduct since 2006. A large component of this disparity lies in the 75th precinct in East New York and Cypress Hills, which has led Brooklyn in complaints in every month of this year.

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In the first 6 months of this year, the 75th precinct received 135 complaints, the only precinct in Brooklyn with more than 100 complaints of police misconduct.

The 75th Precinct also saw the most lawsuits against police officers citywide between January 2015 and June 2018, the Brooklyn Eagle previously reported — its cops were sued 94 times, more than twice that of the next-most-sued precinct

The CCRB was unable to identify exactly which precincts have the highest number of backlogged requests for body camera footage. However, the high concentration of complaints in southeast Brooklyn likely means it’s also disproportionately represented in the backlog of body cam footage requests.

“The current level at which we’re receiving the footage is unacceptable,” said Davie. “This is an opportunity for the NYPD to get it right.”

When the CCRB has been able to obtain body camera footage in an instance of police misconduct, they have been much more successful in identifying the offending officer.

In 2015, 22 percent of fully investigated complaints were closed as “officer unidentified.” Thus far in 2019, that figure is down to 17 percent and is expected to continue declining.

Sgt. Mary Frances O’Donnell told the Brooklyn Eagle earlier this month that the NYPD has “assigned additional personnel to the legal unit to address the backlog of requests.”

The NYPD was not able to provide details on the number of new members of this team, or the increase in resources being used to tackle the backlog.

“Even if there are legitimate reasons for the release of footage to be this slow, it only serves to increase suspicion that there is something to hide,” said Davie.

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