According to a Police Executive Research Forum survey, a quarter of police departments nationwide are using body-worn cameras. Recently, select Monmouth and Bergen County precincts have announced that they will initiate pilot programs equipping police officers with body camera technology in New Jersey.
Officers in the pilot program will wear the weatherproof cameras to record calls for service, sobriety checkpoints, motor vehicle stops, investigative detentions, and any other situations at the officer’s discretion. The camera is comparable in size to a hockey puck, can be turned on with the push of a button, and can record up to nine hours of high-definition video. Data from the camera will be downloaded to a server, where it will be stored for a minimum of 90 days.
Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni explained, “We cannot ignore the current challenges for police officers in the 21st century. Body-worn cameras have the potential to benefit everyone in the community. This pilot program will test that potential at no expense to taxpayers because our Office is using the illegally obtained proceeds of criminals and their criminal networks and turning that ill-gotten money into something good for the whole community.”
The decision comes as momentum grows across the country for law enforcement to add or require body cameras in the wake of questionable police actions recorded by bystanders, such as in the case of officer-related shootings. In addition to providing video evidence that could later be used to supplement an officer’s in-court testimony, police anticipate the cameras will be used to enhance safety for the public, aid in Internal Affairs reviews against officers, and serve as a training tool.
The initial program will last for three months but may be expanded for a longer period of time if more data is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the cameras. “Depending on the volume of data we’re able to collect during the pilot program, we may purchase additional cameras for other police departments that seem to be willing to participate, but for now we’re going to crawl before we walk,” said Gramiccioni.
Paulsboro, a town in Gloucester County, NJ launched a similar program December 2014. Police in Paulsboro attributed a 90 percent decrease in internal affairs complaints in the first quarter of 2015 to officers using the body cameras. Other towns in the state, including Morristown, Elmwood Park, Evesham, Cape May, and Sparta have also implemented similar body camera pilot programs.
If you recently were charged with a crime in New Jersey, contact The Rosenblum Law Firm today at 888-979-7551 for assistance and a free consultation.