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Cameras in NJ Cop Cars Bill To Be Revived [AUDIO]

New police cruisers in New Jersey will not be required to come equipped with video cameras anytime soon, after Gov. Chris Christie failed to take action on the bill that passed both houses of the legislature.

Police Car
Flickr User Scott Davidson

That procedure, called a “pocket veto,” means the bill is now dead. Still, one of its co-sponsors vows to reintroduce it on Monday.

In July 2012, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Turnersville) was stopped by a police officer. The cop said he pulled Moriarty over because the assemblyman cut him off in traffic. Moriarty was arrested and charged with drunken driving, even though he told the officer he had nothing to drink that day.

Charges against Moriarty were eventually dropped when the video camera in the officer’s cruiser revealed the assemblyman did not cut him off. The recording also showed Moriarty passing a field sobriety test. The officer is now facing 14 criminal counts.

“If it weren’t for the cameras in the police car when I was stopped, I probably wouldn’t still be an assemblyman,” Moriarty said. “My character and integrity would continue to be called into question, so I think these are very important.”

Under Moriarty’s vetoed bill, the cameras would have been funded through a $25 surcharge on every person convicted of drunken driving. The assemblyman said that was provided in the legislation to protect taxpayers.

“There are video cameras everywhere these days, in mom-and-pop corner grocery stores, at people’s homes for security,” Moriarty said. “Why wouldn’t we have them in police cars to document evidence that can be used in court? It just boggles my mind.”

The governor gave no reason for the pocket veto according to Moriarty, who said Christie’s inaction means New Jerseyans and police officers remain unnecessarily at risk of being falsely prosecuted.

To the assemblyman, that’s just not acceptable in this day and age.

“This bill is not something I just dreamed up off the top of my head; this bill, as many know, was based on my real-life experience of being falsely charged with drunken driving, a situation that could have ruined my professional and political career if not for the recording device that rightly showed I was innocent,” Moriarty said. “That device protected me that day. It showed the truth, and led to charges being filed against the police officer. Cameras don’t lie.”

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