Newark, NJ- In the very near future, most interactions between the New Jersey state police and the public will soon be recorded by body cameras now that authorities have allocated $4 million dollars to state, county and municipal law enforcement agencies to purchase the equipment.
Gov. Chris Christie’s administration announced an initial plan to award New Jersey State Police $1.5 million to outfit 1,000 officers with body cameras which NJ.com reports will cost $500 each. Then this week, acting state attorney general John J. Hoffman announced an additional $2.5 million to municipal law enforcement agencies in the state to purchase cameras.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the acting New Jersey attorney general said state police officers will be required to film during frisks, searches, traffic stops, accident investigations, assisting motorists, making arrests, transporting arrestees and responding to calls. However, troopers have some leeway to turn off their cameras if it hinders their investigation.
Last the New Jersey legislature passed a law requiring all police forces to either employ patrol car cameras or body cameras.
Municipal police departments in Jersey City and Newark along with Bergen and Camden county forces have already started using the cameras currently or plan to begin using them by the end of the year.
Several High-profile events, such as the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati, have made the use of body-cameras more compelling.
“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,” Governor Christie said in a statement, according to North Jersey.
In a Department of Justice study, body cameras proved to be beneficial to police and the public and have helped foster trust between them.
If a person is pulled over or arrested, and there is some misconduct on behalf of the officer it will be captured on camera. When there are any inconsistencies between in an officer’s report and the individual’s account, these cameras can provide a clear record of their interaction and can be used as proof an individual’s innocence.
On the other hand, if an officer is wrongfully accused of brutality or planting evidence, video from a body camera can show what actually transpired. They provide transparency and allow courts and attorneys to resolve conflicting accounts given by an officer and a member of the public. In their study of body cameras, the DOJ found that body cameras make officers more accountable, increasing their professionalism and performance. The DOJ also found body cams reduced the number of use of force complaints a police department receives.
Although there are some concerns about privacy, there is consensus between the public and law enforcement that broader use of body cameras is beneficial for the communities using them.
From my point of view as a criminal defense attorney in New Jersey, body cameras and other video evidence can be compelling evidence throughout all stages of a person’s criminal case.
Body cameras can provide me with convincing evidence that will allow me to build a successful defense on your behalf.
If you are facing criminal charges in Newark, Jersey City, Elizabeth or Trenton, contact my office and set up a consultation. We can talk about your case and together we can decide which approach gives you the greater chance of avoiding conviction or minimizing the charges you are facing.
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