RED BANK: POLICE TO GET BODY CAMERAS
Borough police will get 20 body cameras under a grant. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank police will soon begin wearing body cameras on the streets, under a grant announced Monday by Acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman.
Aimed at increasing transparency in policing, the program will provide 176 towns statewide with $2.5 million to buy 5,000 cameras and ancillary equipment, Hoffman.
Red Bank is slated to get almost $9,000 under the program, enough to buy 20 cameras, according to a list published by nj.com.The program, paid for by criminal forfeiture funds, “will put New Jersey in the forefront in the U.S in embracing this technology to promote transparency, mutual accountability, and trust between police and the community,” according to a press release issued by the AG’s office.
Hoffman announced the availability of the $2.5 million pot on July 28, and invited police agencies to apply for the funds through the county prosecutors. Most of the agencies received funding for all of the body cameras they requested, Hoffman said at an event in Piscataway.
“We are confronting the fact that we all see the world through the distorted glass of our own personal concerns, experiences and interests,” the attorney general said during the announcement, held at Rutgers University. “What a body-worn camera does is give us an objective witness in a police-involved shooting and other use of force cases.”
Earlier this year, Hoffman issued a directive for the use of the cameras that was met with criticism both from the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and two unions representing New Jersey police officers, who claimed they weren’t given a seat at the table in drafting the new rules and had to go to court to get more information about the state’s plans.
Udi Ofer, head of the ACLU-NJ, said his group has “significant concerns” about the state’s body camera policy, particularly whether citizens will have access to the footage and how the cameras might be used for surveillance.
Police in 20 other Monmouth County towns will get the cameras, including Sea Bright, which will get six, according to the list.
In July, Hoffman also announced plans to fully equip the New Jersey State Police with body cameras, at a cost of $1.5 million. To date, the agency has received 100 of the devices, out of approximately 1,000 that will be phased in over the coming months.
The first 100 cameras are being used to develop protocols and training, in preparation for the rollout of body-worn cameras on patrol, the AG’s press release said. The devices will complement the mounted cameras in every patrol vehicle, which have been used by the State Police for the past 16 years.