Ramos bill would require MTA police to wear body cams
BY MAX PARROTT
After the Metropolitan Transit
Authority announced in September
that it will hire 500 new transit police
officers to enforce “quality of life” issues
on the subway, alarm bells rang
out among civil liberty and criminal
justice reform advocates.
Because the new MTA police officers
are not considered members of the
NYPD, they are exempt from wearing
body cameras, Gothamist reported.
Corona state Senator Jessica Ramos
tackled this gap in police accountability
on Oct. 24 by introducing a bill
that would require MTA police officers
to wear body cameras capable of both
audio and video recording.
“It is imperative that all law enforcement
officials abide by the same
standards when actively patrolling
members of our communities. Body
cameras are an effective tool for ensuring
transparency and guaranteeing interactions
between police officers and
every day New Yorkers are recorded,”
Ramos said in a statement.
In March, the NYPD announced
that all uniform patrol officers in the
city would be equipped with body-worn
cameras. Ramos’ bill would amend the
public authorities law, which recognizes
MTA police officers as subject to the
same jurisdictional provisions as other
State Senator Jessica Ramos introduced legislation that would require MTA police to
wear body cameras. Photo by Michael Shain
members of the police force, which
include wearing a body camera while
monitoring the Transit Authority.
Still, other progressive state legislators
pointed out that the body cam
issue is the tip of the iceberg when it
comes to increased subway policing.
Bushwick state Senator Julia Salazar
argued on Twitter that the deeper
issue is that pursuing fare evasion
“This is definitely the right question,”
she tweeted. “I understand
why people see value in body cameras,
but the city’s policy on how BWC’s
are used and access to the footage totally
undermines accountability and
their purpose. We just need to stop
criminalizing fare evasion.
Back in January, Assemblyman
Dan Quart unveiled a bill that would
seek address this criticism by amending
the public authorities law to make
the maximum penalty for fair evasion
no greater than a $2.75 fair.
“Prosecuting a New Yorker for theft
of services in the amount of $2.75 is the
definition of criminalizing poverty.
New Yorkers who are arrested for turnstile
jumping face a criminal record,
ruined job prospects, immigration
consequences and the loss of parental
rights. Even more alarming – almost
92% of those arrested were people of
color,” states Quart’s bill.
The bill did not make it past the
Standing Committee on Corporations,
Authorities and Commissions last
In response to Ramos’ legislation,
the MTA has stated that it is in favor
on implementing the cameras.
“We intend to pursue the use of
body cameras, which are a valuable policing
tool, for all MTA officers and we
have been bargaining on this important
issue with our labor union about
implementation,” said MTA Communications
Director Tim Minton.
Reach reporter Max Parrott by email
or by phone at (718) 260-2507
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