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Suffolk To Give Police ‘Special Exceptions’ To Turn Off Body Cameras

Damian Dovarganes

Suffolk County gave an update on its police body camera program set to roll out as soon as late this year. Officials will most likely give police “special exceptions” on when they can turn the cameras off while on duty.

During an online community meeting, Suffolk County Acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron said the department is in the process of writing the details of the policy, which will dictate how officers can use the cameras.

He said there may be special circumstances where officers can deactivate the camera, including schools and hospitals.

“If you respond to someone's household on a call. And they specifically ask us not to record video within the household. So more than likely there will be special exceptions where the officers will be able to turn off the body cameras and not record,” Cameron said.

Cameron also said the body camera program will likely contain an auditing process that would have supervisors checking videos to see what officers are doing.

Earlier this year, Suffolk police officers were seen on body camera kicking a handcuffed man. The officers wearing the camera appeared to turn away from the incident. The video was not discovered until days after.

Cameron said the department is in the process of field testing what he expects will eventually be “millions of dollars” worth of body camera equipment. He said remote uploads may be difficult where radio signals are weaker on Long Island’s North Shore, but said that most officers should have cameras by next year.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.