The number of New Jersey police departments using body cameras is about to increase substantially.

A police officer wears a 'body camera' (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Acting state Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced Monday that his office is giving $2.5 million in awards to 176 police departments across the Garden State to purchase body cameras for officers.

“The awards, made with criminal forfeiture funds, will support purchases of 5,000 body camera statewide,” he said. “As a result of these grants, we will be going from about 50 police departments with a limited number of body cameras in New Jersey to roughly four times that number.”

Hoffman said 13 other police departments, including Trenton, are also getting cameras from other sources of funding, which will bring the total number of departments using body cameras in New Jersey to 208.

“I believe we’re rapidly approaching a tipping point where the vast majority of police departments will be joining this trend and equipping their officers with body cameras,” he said.

According to Hoffman, New Jersey is now leading the nation when it comes to deploying body cameras to strengthen accountability.

Acting Attorney General Hoffman (David Matthau, NJ 101.5)

“Police officers in New Jersey are embracing this technology to protect themselves, to assist them in doing their work, and to foster real meaning and lasting community relations,” he said.

The Attorney General’s office is also equipping the New Jersey State Police with body cameras, at a cost of $1.5 million, bringing the total investment in body cameras for the state to $4 million. He said the money will go to purchase 1,000 body cameras for troopers

Many departments are purchasing body cameras for $500 each, but they can be as expensive as $1,000.

Hoffman said while it's almost impossible to not have certain types of bias as a human being, what a body camera does “is give us an objective witness in a police involved shooting, and other use of force incidents, so that truth rules the day, and not emotions, not agendas. The power of this small high-tech device really is the power of truth.”

“By promoting transparency and ensuring unbiased investigations of these incidents, we safeguard equal justice for all, and we also help to keep the officers safe," Hoffman said. "Body cameras hold both officers and civilians accountable for their conduct and serve to discourage inappropriate conduct on either side.”

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