New Yorkers should visit nypdbodycameras.org now and take advantage of this rare opportunity to give input on not only how we are policed, but on how we will literally be watched. Body-worn cameras are often portrayed as simply the latest trend in police departments, which have eagerly gobbled them up ever since the Justice Department gave not only its rhetorical blessing but endorsed the technology with an open checkbook.
Their fetishization aside, these cameras are not toys. They are expensive surveillance tools that demand careful study and broad community input — and not just from elite policymakers, law enforcement officials and police reform advocates like me.
It is the voices of everyday people whose input into police policy is most vital. Just a few paragraphs after laying out the one-year pilot program, the judge in the landmark stop-and-frisk case against the city highlighted precisely this, writing that “no amount of legal or policing expertise can replace a community’s understanding of the likely practical consequences of reforms in terms of both liberty and safety.”