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NYC officials cool to idea of police body cameras

NEW YORK — Police officers around the country have been able to protect themselves against citizen complaints by wearing tiny body cameras, but a federal judge’s plan to force some New York officers to start wearing the devices has angered the city’s mayor and police unions.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized the cameras unnecessary for the 35,000-officer department, while police reform advocates have cautiously agreed to the idea in theory — with some caveats. And people on both sides have raised privacy concerns in a city that already has thousands of public and private cameras recording people.

“It needs to be examined further, which is why a test program is the right idea,” said Baher Azmy, legal director of the civil liberties group Center for Constitutional Rights.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered a pilot program of the cameras and other major reforms to the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy this week, after she found the NYPD intentionally discriminated against minorities.

Bloomberg called the cameras no real solution and vowed to appeal, which likely means no changes are imminent.