Body Cameras Used by More Than Half of NJ’s Police Departments
The State Police began their rollout in early October, and hundreds of local law enforcement agencies in New Jersey are already on board.
Body-worn cameras are a much more common accessory on police uniforms throughout the state - an effort aimed at improving the relationship between law enforcement and the community, and one that, in the process, can provide crucial answers in the event of run-ins between cops and the public.
The state in September announced a second round of funding worth $550,000 devoted to police departments interested in equipping their officers with body-worn cameras. Last year, $2.5 million was distributed to departments for the same reason.
"Our most recent tally is that of the roughly 500 local law enforcement agencies in the state, approximately 208 have taken advantage of these grants and are equipping their police with body cameras," Attorney General Christopher Porrino told New Jersey 101.5.
The prevalence of body-worn cameras varies from department to department, depending on how many are purchased and how they're deployed on patrol.
On Oct. 1, State Police troopers in the Bordentown, Bellmawr and Red Lion stations turned on their cameras during patrol shifts to record interactions with the public.
"Attaching the cameras to our troopers will give us more information in a variety of locations," said New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes. "They will help protect troopers and the public by creating an objective record of our interactions."
The agency was the first in the state to employee cameras in patrol vehicles more than 15 years ago.
As long as the funding is available, Porrino anticipates a climb in the number of participating police departments throughout New Jersey.
"Both police and the communities we police embrace the technology because it's a way to build public trust through accountability," Porrino said.