The New York Police Department has decided to suspend the use of nearly 3,000 body cameras after one of them exploded, NBC News reported.
The Police said on Sunday that an officer who was out on a midnight tour on Saturday noticed smoke coming out from his body camera. He immediately removed it from his body, after which the device exploded.
In a statement to Fox News, the Office of Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Phillip Walzak said that no one was hurt but the incident revealed a potential problem with the camera’s battery. The cause and scope of the defect are now being investigated.
“Last night, an officer retrieved a body-cam for deployment on a midnight tour and noticed there was smoke exiting from the bottom portal,” the statement said. “There were no injuries sustained. The incident revealed a potential for the battery inside the camera to ignite.”
The NYPD adopted the use of body cameras after a Manhattan federal judge ordered it to test the use of the devices as a way to curb the stop-and-frisk searches of black and Latino men, which was ruled unconstitutional in 2013.
The department has deployed 15,500 body-worn cameras and plans to equip all 22,000 of its patrol officers with cameras by the end of next year. Nearly 3,000 officers, however, would have to surrender their body cameras for now.
The incident prompted the NYPD to suspend the use of its Vievu model LE-5 body cameras. Police Commissioner James O’Neill has already prohibited officers from using the cameras until the problem is fixed.
There are 2,990 LE-5 body cameras used in 16 precincts across the city and the officers who were previously assigned the cameras were advised to remove them immediately and return them to their commands.
The issue, however, did not impact the police officers who wear the older Vievu model LE-4 body-worn cameras.
Sydney Siegmeth, the vice president of global communications for Axon, the company that owns Vievu said in an email to Fox News on Sunday afternoon that it is working closely with the NYPD to probe into the issue.
Siegmeth said that while the officer involved in the incident was not injured, Axon places utmost importance on officer safety and will there do whatever is necessary to quickly and safely address the situation.
The Chicago Police Department is another big-city department that also uses thousands of body cameras. The CPD, however, said that it has a different body camera vendor from the NYPD.
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