For an organization that has been so adamant on increasing its public surveillance, it is surprising and troubling that several NYPD precincts don’t have working security cameras. A new report by DNAinfo claims that “cameras outside police precinct stationhouses” are “not working in a number of cases, according to an NYPD source.”
The point isn’t just didactic. It has real consequences:
Last month, a lawsuit was filed by the mother of a teen claiming her son, Laquan Nelson, went inside the 88th precinct in Clinton Hill asking for help before he was shot to death outside.
There were no working cameras outside of the precinct and those inside were pointed at the holding cells, according to the source.
Instead of cameras, the precinct has an officer standing watch, the source said.
Last December, an officer’s car was burned outside the 77th precinct in Crown Heights. No surveillance footage was captured in that incident, either.
In that case, police were forced to canvass the area for private surveillance video and two additional officers were assigned to monitor the station house.
According to the source, the reason many precincts keep cameras off is to “protect the identity of victims who are coming and going from the building” and in its place, many precincts have officers patrolling the exterior of the building.
Nelson’s case, however, has brought the issue to the attention of city Councilwoman Vanessa L. Gibson, who oversees the Committee on Public Safety. “The tragic death of Laquan Nelson has illuminated a blind spot in the safety of all cops and civilians coming in and out of these buildings,” she said, adding, “I would support the addition of security cameras to entrances of NYPD precincts as I believe they would protect both police officers and civilians alike.”