City Dept. of Correction pulls all body-worn cameras after one ignites, injures captain

The city Department of Correction temporarily pulled almost 3,500 body-worn cameras after one caught fire and injured a correction captain, the department said Saturday.

The captain was on duty in the George R. Vierno Center on Rikers Island Friday when her Reveal Media D5 body-worn camera spontaneously ignited, said department press secretary Annais Morales.

“[She’s] obviously shaken up, I mean you’re wearing a body camera and it goes on fire, it’s certainly a pretty traumatic situation,” said Patrick Ferraiuolo, president of the Correction Captains’ Association. “But thank God, according to what I’m told, no serious injuries.”

Medics brought the captain to Mt. Sinai Hospital where she was treated for smoke inhalation and released, Morales said.

“The safety of our staff is paramount, which is why I am removing all body-worn cameras from the service out of an abundance of caution while we investigate how and why this incident occurred,” Correction Commissioner Lynelle Maginley-Liddie said in a statement.

Maginley-Liddie issued the department-wide order Saturday afternoon, ordering supervisors to collect the 3,480 body-worn cameras worn by uniformed staff, and to store them in a control room.

“That’s all this is for— the safety of our officers and all staff is paramount,” said Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association spokesman, Michael Skelly.

Morales said the department is in contact with the camera manufacturer to investigate the cause of the malfunction. Reveal Media could not be immediately reached for comment Saturday evening.

The investigation is expected to take one to two weeks, Morales said. In the meantime, uniformed staff members have been ordered to “ensure that all serious incidents and refusals… are documented using a handheld camera in accordance with departmental policy,” as stated in Maginley-Liddie’s memo.

Ferraiuolo said there are “usually just a few” handheld cameras in each jail. The department did not immediately reply when asked if they would supply additional cameras for the duration of the investigation.

The Federal Monitor, which oversees city jails, was notified of the malfunction and the department’s decision to suspend body-worn camera use, Morales said.

Friday’s incident was the first the department has seen since they began using body-worn cameras in 2015, Morales said. All uniformed officers wear the cameras.

The NYPD pulled 2,000 Axon AB2 body-worn cameras offline for inspection in 2021 after a cop at the 34th Precinct in Inwood noticed smoke coming out of one, police said. The cop removed it, and it “ignited,” according to a memo released at the time.

“I was always an advocate of [body-worn cameras]. Since we’ve had them it has actually helped us when it comes to allegations against staff,” Ferraiuolo said. “So I would want to get them back as soon as practical— as long as they’re safe.”