STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Within about two weeks, every patrol officer in the 120th Precinct is expected to be equipped with body cameras, according to NYPD Assistant Chief Kenneth Corey, the borough commander.
By late September, every patrol officer on the Island will have one, said Corey, who spoke exclusively with the Advance last week about the new era of technology and policing.
"I think it compels people on both sides of the camera to be on their best behavior so to speak," said Corey. "It can provide greater transparency; greater accountability."
For cops, if the NYPD commissioner decides to release footage following a controversial incident, it shows the public that "this is really what happened as we said it did," Corey said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O'Neill announced they will be accelerating the implementation of the body camera program citywide during a press conference in Brooklyn Tuesday afternoon.
"Body cameras have helped guide a new day in policing, bolstering transparency and increasing accountability. Now we're accelerating their expansion," the mayor said. "By ensuring all patrol officers are outfitted with these essential, modern policing tools a year faster than originally planned, we're helping to make New York City fairer faster, and growing trust between police and communities."
About 95 percent of large police departments reported using body cameras by 2015, amid societal and political unrest following the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., according to a national study.
Unrest among community members on Staten Island also made national news in 2014, following the police custody death of Eric Garner.
Within months, then-Police Commissioner William Bratton issued the first body cameras on Staten Island, in the 120th Precinct.
Corey said the hope moving forward is to build trust between officers and residents, which includes training for officers city-wide beginning this month in fair and impartial policing.
The institution of body cameras has come with resistance.
A lawsuit filed Jan. 9 in state Supreme Court against the NYPD and de Blasio claims the release of body camera footage violates a state civil rights law protecting officers and civilians.
The suit was filed by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the department's largest union.
"It makes no sense to accelerate the program while there are so many unresolved issues regarding the use of body cams, including the very basic question of whether they actually produce a meaningful change in the interaction between police officers and civilians on the street," said PBA President Patrick Lynch in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
He continued: "Jurisdictions across the country are confronting issues regarding due process, safety, and privacy of police officers and those who are the subject of captured footage, as well as a huge drain on municipal resources for unclear benefit."
The New York Civil Liberties Union argues the law is not applicable to body cameras.
"The PBA lawsuit is yet another ploy to keep the public in the dark about police shootings," said Christopher Dunn, associate legal director at the NYCLU. "It is a gross distortion of state law to claim it bars the release of bodycam video."
The results of the most rigorous study to date tracking the behavior of cops with cameras as opposed to those without was released to the public in October.
The study, which tracked 1,000 officers in Washington D.C. with a camera for 18 months, showed they used force and faced civilian complaints at about the same rates as 1,000 officers without cameras, according to a New York Times report.