ALBANY – Following the investigation into the death of a Wayne County man while under custody of New York State Police, Attorney General Lititia James is recommending that all New York State Trooper be equiped with body cameras.
On, May 20, 2018, Robert L. Scott died following an interaction with a Wayne County Sheriff’s Department deputy and two New York State Police troopers, according to the Attorney General.
The Attorney General’s office reviewed 911 calls and radio transmissions; Interviews of civilian witnesses, including the female whom Mr. Scott was with when the officers were originally dispatched; Interviews of the EMTs who responded to the scene; Presence at the interview of the NYSP troopers; the incident report prepared by the WCSD deputy; the entire NYSP case file; relevant WCSD and NYSP policies; Mr. Scott’s ambulance and hospital records; digital video evidence captured by a camera mounted on a business located across the street from the location where Mr.Scott became unresponsive; the NYSP controlled substances report; and the Medical Examiner’s autopsy report, including toxicology.
While no wrong doing was found against any law enforcement agency, James said the use of body cameras would have made for a “more complete picture of everything that transpired during this incident would have taken shape.”
James said the State Police employs between 4,600 and 5,200 members; it is the second largest law enforcement agency in New York and the ninth largest in the nation.
“Yet, of the 20 largest law enforcement agencies in this country, the NYSP bears the distinction of being the only agency not outfitting its members with body-worn cameras or piloting a plan to do so,” James said. “In fact, as recently as October 24, the NYSP announced that it had no plans to outfit its members with body-worn cameras. We recommend that the NYSP and the policy makers responsible for its funding reconsider that position.”
She went on to say that agencies which have adopted body-worn camera programs note many associated benefits, including: the documentation of evidence, enhanced officer training, the prevention and/or resolution of citizen complaints, transparency and performance and accountability.
“Moreover, at a time when police-civilian encounters are increasingly recorded by members of the public or on cameras mounted on buildings (as in this case) body-worn cameras provide the additional benefit of capturing events from the officer’s actual perspective, to the extent possible,” James said. “The NYSP has cited prohibitive costs to justify its decision not to implement a body-worn camera program. We recognize and acknowledge the costs associated with cameras; not only do the cameras themselves cost money, but there are additional costs associated with data storage, prevention and/or resolution of citizen complaints, transparency, performance and accountability”