Monmouth County launches body camera pilot program
Three municipalities in Monmouth County are taking part in a pilot program that equips police officers with body cameras.
Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni announced Thursday that the police departments in Howell, Middletown and Wall have been chosen for the trial run due to their population size and the fact that they already have patrol car cameras in place.
"Depending on the volume of data that we're able to collect during the pilot program, we may purchase additional cameras for other police departments that seem to be willing to participate," Gramiccioni said. "For now, we're going to crawl before we walk."
The original 15 body cams have been purchased using ill-gotten money uncovered by officials during criminal investigations.
Gramiccioni said the cameras' recordings can be used as compelling evidence in criminal prosecutions and quickly establish possible police misconduct following citizen complaints.
"We've all heard the expression that a picture's worth a thousand words. Well, maybe a video is worth a million words," he said.
The pilot program is scheduled to run for at least three months. According to guidelines, the cameras will be activated on all calls for service, motor vehicle stops, field interviews, investigative detentions, sobriety checkpoints and other incidents at the officer's discretion.
Howell Township Police Chief Ronald Carter said the body cams, along with the recording equipment inside patrol cars, will help serve the community and reduce the number of complaints against officers.
"We had a whole list of volunteers that were willing to participate and wear the cameras," Carter said.
Howell officers began wearing the cameras on Thursday. Middletown and Wall officers are expected to begin early next week.
The small camera, weighing in at 5.3 ounces, mounts to an officer's uniform using magnetic technology and can gather nine hours of high-definition footage on one charge.
All footage is transferred to a server after an officer's shift. After 90 days, the footage is deleted, unless it's been flagged for a particular incident.