COs at NY juvenile facility will soon have body cameras

The department will have 365 body cams in use by the end of the year, according to jail officials

By Reuven Blau
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — City Correction Officers assigned to the city’s new facility for juvenile offenders will soon be equipped with body cameras.

The department plans to distribute 60 body cams to officers at the Horizon Juvenile Center at some point next week, department officials said Wednesday.

“Body cameras are a helpful training tool for improving our use of force tactics and in deterring, de-escalating and investigating incidents,” said department spokesman Peter Thorne.

All told, the department will have 365 body cams in use by the end of the year, according to jail officials.

The juvenile facility has been beset with violence since it opened Oct. 1.

There were 59 uses of force over the first 16 days of operation at the facility, according to a federal monitor’s report published Wednesday.

“The majority of uses of force were in response to outright spontaneous group disturbances, some of which were serious episodes of collective violence,” federal monitor Steve Martin said.

All told, 31 inmates and 39 staff members have been injured in the violence.

The department has nailed down desks and other furniture that was used as weapons during some of the fights. Correction officials are also limiting the movement of the teens to avoid gang feuds.

Martin hailed those measures, and the deployment of body cams, as “useful strategies.”

State officials last week granted a waiver to allow officers to use pepper spray against the teens to break up fights. But the waiver was only for a week and requires officers to fill out onerous paperwork.

Martin suggested the state grant a 90-day waiver for pepper spray.

The de Blasio administration transferred around 90 teens from Rikers Island and city jails to the facility in the Bronx. The move was to comply with the state’s new “Raise the Age” law. That legislation required that 16- and 17-year-old offenders must be treated as juveniles.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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