The NYPD is pulling nearly 3,000 body-worn cameras from the field after one of them exploded in Staten Island this weekend.
According to the department, a patrol officer noticed his body-cam was smoking while leaving a North Shore stationhouse early on Sunday. "After it was safely removed, the device exploded," the NYPD said in a statement. No one was injured, though the surprise detonation did "reveal a potential for the battery inside the camera to ignite," police said.
As a result, Police Commissioner James O'Neill has suspended the use of about 2,990 Vievu model LE-5 body cameras. The new models were rolled out last year, and are now manufactured by Axon, the company formerly known as Taser. The city is locked into a $6.4 million contract with the provider, despite warnings from Comptroller Scott Stringer that other departments had deemed the Vievu cameras "faulty."
It's unclear whether the devices' potential to burst into flames will affect the NYPD's promise to outfit all uniformed patrol officers with the body-cams by 2019. The department has so far deployed a total of 15,500 cameras, and plans to bring the devices to an additional 7,500 officers over the next three months. The NYPD says officers who have been assigned the earlier Vievu model LE-4 cameras will continue to use them.
A spokesperson for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association—which has successfully fought to keep the bodycam footage from the public—declined to comment. In a statement, a spokesperson for Axon said that the company is working to "quickly and safely resolve the situation."
This is not the NYPD's first run-in with shoddy tech. As part of a $160 million initiative to bring the department "into the 21st century," the city began handing out some 36,000 smartphones to patrol officers starting in 2014—only to be forced to recall the crappy devices last year, after Microsoft announced it would no longer support the Windows-based Nokia Lumias. At least they didn't replace them with Samsung's Galaxy phones?