Date: April 2015

Originally Published: NY Daily News

As we watched the horrific scene of Walter Scott’s murder on our City Hall computer screens, we were once again stunned by the very worst of our country’s public safety system and the fractured relationship between police and communities of color.

Had a bystander not been there to film Saturday’s shooting, we may have never known the truth behind Walter Scott’s death. It is a tragic truth that even clear video may not result in justice, but the incident clearly indicates that police interactions must have video surveillance.


When implemented properly, body cameras are neutral observers and can protect citizens and officers alike. They have been recommended by a White House task force on community-police relations, and should be worn by every officer in New York City.

Where New York goes, the country follows. So, it’s on our shoulders to spearhead public safety reform by implementing body cameras on every man and woman in blue.

In September, our city launched a pilot program that deployed 60 cameras in five high-crime precincts, one in each borough. Today we challenge the city to go further.

The Council will soon hold a comprehensive hearing on police reform, bringing discussions that have been happening in the street into the chamber. We will also deliberate body camera legislation that would create a task force to evaluate the long-term implementation of body cameras and we will push for the program’s continued expansion. Cameras will not solve the problem, but it’s a step we can take right now and will go a long way to begin rebuilding trust.

Vanessa L. Gibson is the chairwoman of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety and Jumaane D. Williams is the co-chairman of the Council’s Taskforce to Combat Gun Violence.