NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - Originally, all NYPD patrol officers were supposed to have body cameras by 2019. But that timeline was moved up because of the need for transparency in the department, according to Commissioner James O'Neill.
By the end of 2018, the NYPD uniform for all 18,000 patrol officers will include body cameras. O'Neill said that the cameras have the potential to de-escalate certain situations.
The cameras started out as a pilot program in 2015 to provide evidence, reduce civilian complaints, and hold officers accountable.
"We understand body cameras change lives for better," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "They ensure community members feel the power of transparency."
The camera records video when an officer fires a weapon, makes an arrest, interacts with people suspected of a crime, searches people and property, and interacts with an emotionally disturbed person.
Body-cam video from last year is the first of three videos released of a police-involved shooting. Miguel Richards was shot to death in his Bronx apartment when he ignored police commands to drop his weapon.
The police commissioner and district attorney determine when and if the video can be released to the public. But the policy on releasing the video is still getting sorted out.
Deputy Chief Kerry Sweet said the department is trying to balance the public's right to know with a person's right to a fair trial.
When police cadets graduate this summer they will be immediately trained on how to use the body cameras.
But the head of the union that represents patrol officers disagreed with expanding the use of body cameras.
"It makes no sense to accelerate the program while there are so many unresolved issues regarding the use of body cams, including the very basic question of whether they actually produce a meaningful change in the interaction between police officers and civilians on the street," PBA President Pat Lynch said in a statement.