New Concerns Over Police Body Camera Programs in NJ
As more police departments around New Jersey implement body camera programs, concerns are being raised about funding to keep them going.
Federal funding covers the initial cost of the body cams, but not the money needed for a system to maintain and manage storage and retrieval of the video footage, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato.
"I support the body camera program. I think that it's something law enforcement needs to embrace. I think there are issues with regard to it's not just as simple as going out and purchasing the camera itself. The camera itself isn't all that expensive. It's one is the system, the storage of the system, the retrieval of the system and the management of the system that makes the cost skyrocket," Coronato said.
Coronato said those are budget requirements that individual police will have to decide, as well as how they're going to handle it, retain it and the manner in which they're going to retain it.
"So, those are all the issues that need to be resolved before a police department can go forth, and I think that's why initially you're seeing some of the smaller police departments can embrace it a little bit easier than the larger police departments," he said.
Coronato said implementing a countywide standard could make it easier.
"What we're trying to do here in Ocean County is eventually set up a system that all the police departments can utilize, that we'd all, for lack of a better word, speak the same language, that everybody would be on the same system, and that they would be able to control their storage. But that for instance, there would be one giant file cabinet in which each department would have drawer that they can upload and store their tapes on, their videos on," Coronato said.
Corona also said he feels the body camera program is important and therefore will prompt more police departments to get on board sooner than later.
"It's certainly going to grow, and I think it's important that we go in this direction," Coronato said.
A few Ocean County police departments already have body camera programs, including Berkeley Township, Lakehurst and South Toms River, according to Coronato. He said more have been considering it, adding that the Ocean County Sheriff's Department has applied to the Attorney General's Office for the program.