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NYPD cops accused of using covert signals to warn each other when body cameras are on

“I’m hot,” “I went to Hollywood” and “We’re live” were used to tip-off fellow officers

By Blue Telusma, The Grio

The New York Police Department is no stranger to controversy. It is now being alleged that some officers in the NYPD have found a way to get around the accountability that wearing body cameras is supposed to provide.

According to ABC News, an investigative report by New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) published last month discovered that some officers had been accused of sending each other both verbal and non-verbal cues to warn each other of when their body camera devices are rolling. It sent a signal to be on their best behavior.

The findings of the probe into alleged misconduct by the NYPD found that officers routinely used phrases coded phrases. “I’m hot,” “I went to Hollywood” and “We’re live” were used to tip-off fellow officers.

“The officers also used non-verbal cues, such as tapping motions, shoulder brushing and gesturing to indicate whether their cameras were turned on or off,” the CCRB said in its report. It also noted that NYPD officials later confessed that the force had begun training officers on how to alert one another.

In 2014, the department began using the cameras after a federal judge ruled that its “stop-and-frisk” policies, championed by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, were blatantly unconstitutional. They were also used as a form of “indirect racial profiling” against Black and Brown communities.

Over 3.5 million videos have been recorded in the years since with 24,000 cameras worn by over 36,000 officers outfitted with the tiny palm-sized devices. Their entire purpose is to deter misconduct while helping the CCRD respond to the thousands of complaints it investigates each year.

However, the watchdog group argues that when officers use covert cues to warn each other that essentially negates the purpose of the BWC program altogether.

“Given these identified incidents of officer interference, the CCRB believes the NYPD should amend its policy to prohibit officers from intentionally disrupting a BWC recording, including the use of signaling, to obfuscate or facilitate misconduct,” the report reads.

In addition to the aforementioned interference, the CCRD also identified incidents where officers refused to comply with NYPD policy regarding when bodycams must be activated. Routinely, officers either stalled and waited longer than was appropriate to switch them on, turned them off way too early, or chose not to activate them at all.

This article originally appeared in The Grio.

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