Police body cam bill sails through the NJ Senate
The use of body cameras by police officers would provide a valuable law enforcement tool according to some, and a pair of New Jersey senators have taken steps to make sure the cameras are implemented in the Garden State.
State Senators Shirley Turner (D-Trenton) and Linda Greenstein (D-Cranbury) have co-sponsored a bill to establish a "Police Body Camera Implementation Task Force" to study and make recommendations on the use of body cameras by certain law enforcement in New Jersey. The measure was unanimously approved by the full Senate Dec. 18.
"Body cameras will be able to be used to protect everyone, not just the public, but particularly the police," Turner said. "We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words and we saw what happened in Ferguson. There was no camera so it was all he said-she said."
The task force would be given six months to complete its work. Privacy issues will be studied during that time, Turner said. The American Civil Liberties Union and police officers have raised concerns regarding when the cameras will be recording and what the cameras will be recording. Current New Jersey law requires certain new police cruisers to be equipped with video cameras.
"Body cameras would add to our current law. This way whatever happens at a crime scene will be there in black and white. We will know what took place and why. Also, when people know that there are cameras people are on their best behavior, not just the public, but also the police officers," Turner explained.
As Turner envisions it, the body cameras would be worn by police on the streets only. She said there's no reason to have an officer who sits at a desk all day wear a camera and obviously, undercover officers would not be required to wear a body camera either.
"Many police departments across the country, including in New Jersey, are moving towards implementing body camera technology. As we move in this direction statewide, I believe it is necessary that we take a thoughtful and measured approach at the state level in providing guidelines for implementing and using this technology," Greenstein said in a press release statement.