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Lawyers ask judge to stop NYPD rollout of body cameras

NYPD Officer Joshua Jones demonstrates how to use

NYPD Officer Joshua Jones demonstrates how to use and operate a body camera during a news conference Dec. 3, 2014 in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

The lawyers who sued New York City to force reforms in stop and frisk practices have asked the federal judge overseeing that case to halt the NYPD’s planned rollout of body-worn cameras until changes are made in the way they are used.

In a letter filed late Wednesday with Manhattan U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres, the lawyers said the current plan should be amended to prohibit privacy violations by barring police from running recordings through facial recognition software or databases for investigations.

They also told the judge the NYPD plan gives officers too much freedom in deciding what encounters they have to record and at what point they tell civilians they are being recorded, and improperly allows officers access to the recordings when preparing their reports.

The NYPD was first ordered to run a pilot program using body-worn cameras as part of the federal court ruling on stop-and-frisk in 2013 which Torres now oversees. The NYPD plans to start the program next week.

The lawyers complained that the program was intended to provide deterrence and protection against violations of citizens rights by cops, and is being expanded as a tool to provide evidence for criminal prosecutions.

“We ask that the pilot program not be used for this purpose,” the letter to Torres said.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.

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