By early 2016, all New Jersey State Troopers will be equipped with body cameras for recording interactions with the public. Governor Chris Christie has allocated $1.5 million of the State Police’s budget for recording devices and state officials have announced an additional $2.5 million in grants to help with purchasing costs. Once cameras are fully available, troopers will be expected to record everything from traffic stops to criminal arrests, but will have discretion to turn off the camera if they feel it is hindering an investigation.
A variety of police troops nationwide have already introduced body camera programs, including a recent initiative that brought cameras to select Monmouth and Bergen County precincts. These programs have been implemented in part as a response to nationwide outrage regarding police brutality and race relations.
Cameras are overall viewed as a positive step by the public and have been shown to reduce the number of complaints police departments receive. Governor Christie has also expressed his support for bodyworn camera programs, stating, “Across the country, we’ve seen what happens when distrust and distance between police and their communities result in situations that can quickly spiral out of control.”
However, Udi Ofer, executive director of the state ACLU, has pointed out that because the recordings will not be made public, “The public will not have a right to access the kind of footage, whether it’s the chokehold used on Eric Garner or the arrest of Sandra Bland, that has sparked a conversation on police abuses.” In addition, some officials and organizations have raised concerns that cameras can violate civil rights if people are recorded against their wishes or if sensitive data is captured on camera.
Though the availability of recordings is still a point of contention, officers will not be expected to record in places such as in schools, health care facilities, and places of worship to prevent civil rights violations.Similarly, officers will be required to provide verbal notice before recording a victim or someone in their home.
If you were charged with a crime, you need a lawyer, regardless of whether there is a recording from a body camera as evidence. Contact The Rosenblum Law Firm today at 888-979-7551 for assistance and a free consultation.