Virginia Coalition of Police
and Deputy Sheriffs
N.Y. Senator Pushes For
Cameras On Cop Handguns
N.Y. (AP) ― In a flash, a police
officer draws a handgun from its holster. Less than two seconds later, a red
laser and bright light shine at whatever is in the gun barrel's path while a
mini-camera records it all.
That's how mini-cams on police handguns would work under a proposal gaining
support in New York, which would be the first state in the nation to require the
technology. State police were briefed on the technology and are reviewing it for
a possible pilot program, said Michael Balboni, the state's deputy secretary for
The device could create a critical visual and audio record of police shootings
for use in court, said state Sen. Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat and former
police officer. He is drumming up support for testing the cameras with the state
police SWAT squad.
Adams said recordings from the $695 cameras couldn't be altered by a police
officer and would quell many questions after controversial police shootings,
like the deaths in New York City of Amadou Diallo in 1999 and Sean Bell in 2006.
"That's definitely a new thing," said Meredith Mays of the International
Association of Chiefs of Police based in Virginia. She said police have known
the technology existed, but no state has required it.
Some police departments have put cameras on Tasers in the last couple years, but
there is no major national effort by police to seek or block gun cameras at the
federal level, according to the National Association of Police Organizations, a
"We believe the state of New York can lead the country," said Adams, who retired
after 21 years as a New York police officer. "There no longer can be a question
mark that lingers after shootings."
Adams, who was never involved in a shooting, said the lights on the 5-ounce
camera could be turned off if they would expose the officer to danger in a dark
area. But the camera and optional audio recorder would remain operating for up
to 60 minutes.
He said the images would also help identify suspects who get away. He wants a
pilot program that would allow testing by police at shooting ranges. That could
lead to a law mandating the gun cameras, he said.
Adams knows many police won't embrace the idea at first.
There was no immediate comment from the police department and police officers
union in New York City. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office said it will review any
legislation that comes from Adams' effort.
But in Albany, there is growing support.
Republican Sen. Dale Volker of Erie County, a former police officer who would be
critical to passing the Democrat-backed bill, already sought funding for a pilot
program. But that $300,000 request to test the technology in state police SWAT
squads was cut in the budget this spring as part of efforts to close a deficit
of about $5 billion.
"You have to understand, particularly in urban areas today, it is not like the
old days when if someone was shot you went before a grand jury," said Volker.
Today, he said, an officer would also face intense media and community
"It's a different world," he said. "It's not even a matter of right and wrong a
lot of times. It's that people decide very often whatever you did was probably
In the Democrat-led Assembly, Adams and his colleagues in the influential black,
Hispanic and Asian caucus like the idea.
The gun camera is made by Legend Technologies, based in the Adirondack mountains
town of Keesville, N.Y.