On Sunday, a Staten Island police officer’s body cam burst into flames while he was wearing it and now the NYPD is eliminating 2,990 of them from use after they “revealed a potential for the battery inside the camera to ignite.”
The officer from the 121st Precinct wasn’t injured by the explosion, The New York Times reported. He said that he did notice smoke coming from the Vievu-brand LE-5 camera earlier that night and removed it immediately.
NYPD pulls nearly 3,000 bodycams after explosion https://t.co/cMDmSRw6mL
— NBC New York (@NBCNewYork) October 22, 2018
Police said in a statement, “After it was safely removed, the device exploded. The cause and the scope of the defect are currently being investigated.”
Police commissioner James P. O’Neill said, “Nothing is more important than the safety of our officers and equipping the N.Y.P.D. with the best equipment is a paramount priority.”
He immediately halted the cameras from use “out of an abundance of caution” and officers were instructed to turn them in.
The police department has assigned two models of the body cams to officers — the LE-4 and the LE-5, NBC News reported.
It was the LE-5 that exploded, so officers using the other model will continue working with them, while officers who were using the LE-5 model would not be using a body cam for now.
The city signed a $6.4 million contract for the Vievu cameras in 2016.
Over 15,500 of the Vievu body cameras have been handed out to officers within the precincts.
Body cams have become a valuable tool for police as the country watches vigilantly over fatal shootings by police.
The NYPD had announced that all 23,000 officers across the precincts would be using a body cam by year’s end, however, that may not be possible now.
When the city went into contract with Vievu, various other police departments questioned the quality of the LE-4, which resulted in a delay in the deal. The mayor approved the contract when Vievu introduced the LE-5 in Oct. 2017.
The new model runs on a lithium-ion battery and can record for 12 hours.
Sydney Siegmeth, vice president of global communications for Axon — Vievu’s parent company — said they are cooperating with authorities on the investigation. “We will do whatever is necessary to quickly and safely resolve this situation,” Siegmeth said.
Taser renamed itself Axon in 2017, and then bought Vievu in May.