Prison Guard’s Bodycam Catches Fire Causing New York to Withdraw Them

Body camera

After a New York City Department of Corrections employee suffered burns and smoke inhalation when the bodycam she was wearing suddenly caught fire, bodycams for all staff have been temporarily suspended.

The incident took place at Rikers Island prison on Friday with the Corrections Department contacting the unnamed camera manufacturer to find out the cause of the fire. The investigation is expected to take one to two weeks.

“The safety of our staff is paramount, which is why I am removing all body-worn cameras from service out of an abundance of caution while we investigate how and why this incident occurred,” Corrections Commissioner Lynelle Maginley-Liffie tells NBC News while wishing the injured captain well.

On Saturday, the Department of Correction removed all 3,000 body-worn cameras after the incident at Rikers Island correctional facility with unions asking for a full safety review.

“They’re going to pull them,” Patrick Ferraiuolo, president of the Correction Captains’ Association, tells The New York Post. “They’re not going to be returned to staff until we’re sure they’re OK.”

The captain in question went to the hospital but wasn’t admitted and is said to be “doing OK, but a little traumatized.”

It remains unclear as to why the camera combusted but some of the bodycams use lithium batteries which are known to occasionally ignite.

The 3,000 body cameras used by the Department of Corrections are not the same ones used by the New York City Police Department. But it is not the first time a bodycam has caught fire: the NYPD had its own bodycam exploding issues in 2021 when they pulled 2,000 Axon AB1 model cameras off the street. Axon believed it was because of overheating.

And in 2018 a New York City law enforcement officer on Staten Island had their body-worn camera catch fire.

In a statement to his members, Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association President Benny Boscio said the city and DOC commissioner have agreed to yank the cameras at his request.

“The DOC will temporarily be taking all [body worn cameras] offline in order to conduct a safety review of the devices until further notice,” the message says.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.