City Public Advocate Letitia James on Thursday proposed a pilot program that would outfit dozens of New York Police Department officers in high-crime precincts with body-mounted cameras. "This summer we've seen some really powerful images in Missouri and New York City in the aftermath of … Michael Brown and Eric Garner, " Ms. James said. Cameras, she said, "would go a long way toward providing an objective record of what happened either before or after an incident."

In July, Mr. Garner was placed in an apparent chokehold by a NYPD officer after he resisted arrest on Staten Island. He died about an hour after the confrontation. And in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9, teenager Michael Brown was killed by a police officer. Both Mr. Brown and Mr. Garner were unarmed and the incidents have drawn national attention.

While not making the final selection, Ms. James's office is testing two brands of cameras that are the size of a pager and cost between $400 and $900 each. In other cities where the cameras are used—such as New Orleans and San Diego—Ms. James said they have helped reduce the burden of civil suits against police.