The Middletown police department is one of three in Monmouth County that will test the feasibility of video cameras worn on the uniforms of patrol officers, county Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni announced Thursday.

AUTHORITIES_MTOWN2The test, coming amid rising public attention to cases of actual and alleged police abuse, may lead to countywide deployment of body cameras, Gramiccioni said in a prepared statement.

Here’s the full text of the announcement:

Three municipal police departments in Monmouth County will participate in a pilot program to evaluate the operability and feasibility of police officer body-worn cameras for possible future countywide deployment, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

The Howell, Middletown and Wall Township Police Departments have been selected as the pilot program participants for the police officer body-mounted cameras purchased with funds from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Law Enforcement Trust Account (CLETA).  The Prosecutor’s Office will coordinate and oversee the pilot project.  The three police departments were chosen for their geography, population, and the compatibility and integration of currently deployed vehicle-mounted on-board camera technology with the new body-worn camera technology being assessed.

“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,” Gramiccioni said.

According to a survey conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum about 25 percent of all police departments nationally are currently using BWCs.

“Use of body-worn cameras could offer many benefits.  The recordings may help provide additional evidence in criminal investigations; may enhance the safety of our officers and citizens; may aid police departments and this Office in expeditiously reviewing citizen complaints against officers; may be used administratively as a police training tool; and perhaps most importantly, will help law enforcement continue to maintain and build credibility and integrity with the public,” Gramiccioni said.

Under the pilot program, select police officers will be deployed into the field with a body-worn camera (BWC) as they conduct their daily routines and patrols. The officers will be trained in the proper use and operation of the body-worn camera and under guidelines established for the pilot program, officers will activate the body-worn cameras to record all calls for service, motor vehicle stops, field interviews, investigative detentions, sobriety checkpoints and for any other incident at the officer’s discretion.

“Law enforcement officers will activate their BWC prior to arrival at the scene of a dispatched call for service and officers should activate their BWC for a proactive event prior to initiation of the event or as soon as safely possible. This will allow the maximum amount of information regarding the incident to be captured,” explained Chief of Detectives Michael Pasterchick, of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

The pilot program is using a weatherproof camera that easily mounts to an officer’s uniform using magnetic technology, offers 9 hours of continuous high-definition recording on a single charge and weighs in at about 5.3 ounces – less than a hockey puck.

“Monmouth County law enforcement agencies have always put themselves at the forefront of community policing efforts and innovations – the implementation of this pilot program helps to continue that tradition to help law enforcement forge better relationships with our communities,” said Howell Township Police Chief Ronald Carter.

The BWCs have already been deployed in Howell Township, and are expected to be deployed by next week in Middletown and Wall Townships.

“Police chiefs across the county are anxious to see the results of this pilot program and how the cameras can enhance our community policing activities,” said Avon-By-The-Sea Police Chief Terrence Mahon, president of the Monmouth County Police Chief’s Association.