A New York State trooper equipped with a body camera.

A New York State trooper equipped with a body camera. Credit: NYS Police

New York State Police have begun equipping troopers in the Capital region with body cameras, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Thursday.

Deployment of body cameras for those troopers will be completed by late April or early May, Cuomo said. State police working on Long Island and other parts of the state should be using them by the fall.

Cuomo ordered state police to equip troopers with body cameras in June, shortly after the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police. Cuomo also ordered every law-enforcement agency in the state to develop plans to reform policing or risk the loss of state funds.

"This step is part of a progressive package of reforms that will increase transparency in policing and accountability among all law enforcement agencies statewide, and we look forward to continuing this important work in the future," Cuomo said.

Axon, the Arizona-based company that manufactures technology products for law-enforcement agencies, will supply State Police with 3,000 body cameras. The company will also provide secure cloud video storage, software and technical support at a cost of $7.6 million per year.

State troopers will be required to begin recording interactions immediately before exiting their vehicle and any interactions they have with criminal suspects. They will also be required to record arrests, when they issue a summons and during all uses of force. The cameras will automatically start recording when a patrol vehicle’s emergency lighting is activated or any time a trooper unholsters a gun or Taser.

Advocates of body cameras say the devices promote police accountability and transparency, protect officers from false allegations of misconduct and can help preserve evidence at crime scenes.

"Body-worn cameras are an important tool that will not only reinforce public confidence in the great work our troopers do each and every day but will also serve as a critically important investigative tool," said State Police Acting Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen.

Suffolk and Nassau county police are among a small minority of large law-enforcement agencies in the United States that have not deployed body cameras on a wide scale. The reform plans drawn up by officials in both counties include the widespread use of body cameras, but those programs must be approved by Long Island’s police unions.

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