The New York City Police Department has been working for years to outfit its entire force with body cameras. The goal was to have one for every officer by next year. But, there’s a problem: one such body cam caught fire. A camera worn by an officer in Staten Island last night began smoking and “burst into flames”. Prompting which the NYPD pulled them from use until further notice while it investigates.
The Daily Beast reports that a Vievu model LE-5 body camera “burst into flames” early Sunday morning. This happened while an officer was wearing it right outside a Staten Island police precinct. According to the NYPD, “an officer retrieved a body-cam for deployment and noticed smoke exiting from the bottom portal. He proceeded to remove it immediately. The device exploded, but caused no harm.” The NYPD claims its “aware of a possible product defect.” Fortunately, the explosion did not cause any injuries.
They are investigating the cause of the defect. The continued use and distribution of the LE-5 model cameras have been suspended immediately. The department says that while officers assigned an LE-5 camera are to turn them in. But those assigned an LE-4 camera will continue using them.
At the beginning of the year, the NYC mayor announced that by the end of 2018, all NYPD officers on patrol would be wearing a body cam. However, this was moved up from the city’s original projection that all officers would be equipped with body cameras by the end of 2019. The NYPD has already deployed approximately 15,500 body cameras. Of those cameras, about 2,990 of them are the Vievu model LE-5.
In May of this year, Axon, the law enforcement product company best known for making the Taser, acquired Vievu. The company is a leader in the body camera industry. “We are working closely with the NYPD to investigate this issue. The officer was not injured, however, officer safety is of the utmost [sic] importance to Axon,” said an Axon spokesperson. “We will do whatever is necessary to quickly and safely resolve this situation.”