The New York Police Department recalled nearly 3,000 body cameras issued to officers over the weekend after one of the devices worn by a Staten Island officer exploded, according to NYPD officials.
The NYPD’s decision to remove Vievu-brand LE-5 cameras comes two years after the city signed a $6.4 million contract with the Seattle-based division of technology and weapons firm Axon. The particular body camera model in question was introduced about one year ago.
“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 Monday. “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.”
According to Tisch, the NYPD is not going to continue deploying the LE-5 model, stating that “officer safety is [the NYPD’s] primary concern.” The department has since hired an independent forensics investigator to do an analysis of the camera that exploded.
The NYPD reports it is now exploring two options for its body camera program. The first plan would be to issue officers with LE-4 cameras instead of the LE-5 in order to meet a department goal of providing all 23,000 patrol officers with body cameras. However, the department says it only has 12,710 LE-4 cameras available.
According to Tisch, the NYPD is working with Vievu and Axon to “spin up a manufacturing line to produce more inventory for us.”
The second option that the NYPD is exploring is providing officers with a different model — the Axon Body Camera 2.
“There are a lot of complexities associated with [this option],” Tisch said. “Not least of which is managing a hybrid environment where some officers are using the Vievu evidence management platform and other officers would be using evidence.com, there are practical administrative issues associated with that. There are also technical issues about how we would set up the commands that have the Axon body cameras.”
Axon reports it is also conducting a review of Vievu’s manufacturing supply chain to suss out any potential hazards with future or existing LE-5 devices.
Axon, which changed its name from Taser last year, is the market’s dominant police body camera maker, controlling 43 of the 54 body camera contracts so far awarded by major U.S. police departments, according to the company.