The New York City Police Department has suspended a detective after learning he recorded a 32-second video of his testicles on a body cam in what appears to have been a horribly ill-advised prank, the New York Daily News reported on Saturday.
According to the Daily News, law enforcement sources and internal police documents said Detective Specialist Raymond Williams of the 79th Precinct was suspended Thursday after the video was inadvertently discovered by a female staffer at the city's Legal Bureau during a review of recordings.
Williams worked as a neighbourhood coordination officer (NCO), which the NYPD wrote on its website are liaisons between community members and the police.
The Daily News wrote the hairy situation also involves another NCO:
Williams waited until unsuspecting cop Michael Devonish — another neighbourhood coordination officer — went to the men's room in their Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, stationhouse before he snatched Devonish's body camera and put it to anatomical abuse.
On Oct 2, Williams "took possession of another member of the service's department issued body camera and recorded a 32-second second video consisting of him intentionally exposing his testicles while in the 79 Precinct Special Operations Office," according to police documents acquired by The News.
Williams' naked behind and testicles were on full display, and he even rubbed his penis, sources said.
Devonish never alerted superiors of the incident, and when the clip was discovered by the Legal Bureau staffer, the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau subsequently launched an investigation, the Daily News wrote.
"If he's an NCO, that's worse," a source told the paper. "He's supposed to be a positive influence on the community."
The NYPD told the paper that "The incident is under investigation." The incident was subsequently confirmed by reporters for both the radio station 1010 WINS and the New York Post, a city tabloid. The latter paper claimed that Williams was told to hand in his ID card, badge, and two firearms.
The NYPD's body cam pilot program was first ordered in 2013 as part of a ruling that the department's stop-and-frisk tactics are unconstitutional, per the New York Times. Last year, it survived a legal challenge that claimed draft policies on body cams would allow officers to only record the parts of interactions that support their side of the story and made public access to the footage extremely difficult.
The program is also being challenged by the city's police union, which is fighting in court to keep the footage hidden from the public under the theory they constitute protected personnel records.
Beyond policy disputes and the alleged genital incident, the NYPD's body cam program has also run into technical problems. After officers claimed a Vievu-brand body cam caught fire in October, the department yanked some 2990 cameras out of the total of 15,500 already in deployment.
Other technical problems have included research indicating many popular brands of body cams, including Vievu, have been documented to have serious security vulnerabilities. As Gothamist reported, the city is locked into a $US6.4 ($9) million contract with the brand, despite warnings from city officials and other police departments that it is unreliable, including a flaw that drops 5.4 frames per minute from footage.