Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, at Southern Baptist Church, a coalition of African-American clergy demanded a public discussion around the selection of VieVu as the vendor for the NYPD’s $6.4 million body camera contract. More than 10 clergy members were in attendance, including the Rev. Dr. Carl Washington Jr., moderator of the United Missionary Baptist Association of New York City, and the Rev. Dr. Johnnie M. Green Jr., president and CEO of Mobilizing Preachers and Communities and pastor of Mount Neboh Baptist Church.
“NYPD has expressed their commitment to making changes in how they police our communities. This should be reflected in everything from policy to the technology they choose to protect citizens,” said Green. The Rev. Keith Roberson, pastor of Southern Baptist Church, added, “I’m concerned about what faulty body cams would mean for the people of my community. Footage from body cameras can prove vital in any case. We just can’t afford footage loss or any room for human error, especially in communities of color where relationships with the police are already tense.”
VieVu has contracts with only two other major cities: Oakland, Calif., and Aurora, Ill. VieVu was denied contracts by 10 major cities. In Oakland, authorities reported a 25 percent data loss because of a simple box not being checked, leaving doubts about how reliable the NYPD’s body cameras would actually be.
“Cincinnati released a report in March 2016 detailing numerous defects with VieVu technology and in 10 other major cities throughout the country, another vendor was chosen over VieVu. Our communities deserve to know why and how this vendor was chosen. This is about the safety and protection of both citizens and police officers,” stated Washington. The Cincinnati report of a VieVu field test describes issues such as software consistently crashing, unreliable or poor picture and audio quality and a narrow field of view, among many other issues. The NYPD selected a vendor for their body camera contract without conducting any field tests on the proposed cameras.
Clergy in attendance included Washington, Green, Roberson, the Rev. Dr. Patricia A. Morris, the Rev. Dr. Gloria Bradshaw, the Rev. Gloria Peters-Wynn, the Rev. Wayne Williams, the Rev. Kevin Quarles, Bishop Phillip Crichlow, the Rev. Robert Jones and the Rev. Isaac Stucks.