Public Advocate Letitia James called on the mayor, the police commissioner and the City Council Monday to back a body camera program for cops on patrol.
The call for support comes amid backlash from the police union and the Mayor Bill de Blasio's admission that the plan is just "complicated."
The pilot program, James said, would cost about $5 million and cover about 15% of the city's police force in precincts with the highest crime rates and most complaints against the NYPD. It would cost about $32 million, she said, to roll it out for the entire city.
"By using body cameras on NYPD [officers] we will expand transparency, accountability and fairness, reduce civil liability," James said from a news conference at her office, "and improve relationships between NYPD and members of the community."
In her stop and frisk decision in August 2013, Manhattan U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled -- among other things -- for a pilot program in which police officers wear body cameras to record stops in five test precincts. Upon taking office, de Blasio began proceedings to drop the city's appeal of Scheindlin's ruling.
James saidthe pilot program could be rolled out as early as the beginning of 2015.
The police department is "exploring the feasibility" of the cameras, deputy chief Kim Royster said in a statement.
"In the process of doing so, there are various technological, legal and logistical concerns that must be addressed before making a final decision," she said.
Mayor de Blasio said in a news conference in July that the technology that was agreed to in the federal court settlement "is not something that has been perfected yet" and still needs to be worked on.
"But I certainly think it's a productive idea, and it will, I think, ultimately improve the relationship between police and community," he added.
Pat Lynch, the president of the police's union the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, has said wearing cameras "weighed down" officers who already have to carry a lot.
"It is common knowledge that New York City is already saturated with video cameras. Manhattan has its ring of steel," Lynch said in an August 2013 statement. "Additional equipment becomes an encumbrance and a safety issue for those carrying it."
James said her office is scheduling a meeting with Lynch to address his concerns.