All New Jersey State Police vehicles have video dashcams that record what happens when troopers respond to incidents.

Soon, all of the troopers themselves will be wearing recording equipment on their uniform.

New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Pat Callahan said members of Troops A, B and C that work on the road are already wearing body cameras, and hopefully by later this summer the men and women assigned to Troop D, which covers the Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike, will have them as well.

“We’re in the procurement process of an entirely new vendor for our body-worn cameras, so that involves not only the storage and servers and the infrastructure at stations," he said.

He said having troopers out on patrol wearing the body cameras is a good idea for several reasons – it will encourage all troopers to always behave appropriately, and “I think also when the public knows they are being filmed in that interaction, that they have some level of accountability too, and it may adjust their behavior to deescalate a situation which may otherwise sometimes go sideways.”

He said with everybody carrying around cell phones, “I tell all the troopers that I talk to, we’re on film anyway, whether it’s something that’s hanging from your uniform, something on your dashboard, and it’s you out there interacting with the public.”

“I think in most instances it makes for a very positive encounter regardless of the situation," he said.

Callahan said having body cameras can help to foster trust among the general public but “the men and women wearing the camera is really what matters most. The camera is just an ancillary tool to that.”

He said if we don’t have properly trained officers, "we’re just going to have a lot of bad video out there, so I stress, I think it’s a piece of instilling public trust. I just don’t think it’s the almighty elixir.”

He said most troopers have found the cameras to be a "phenomenal asset.”

The body cams and video storage will be paid for with $1.5 million in criminal forfeiture funds. Callahan said part of the cost is also being covered under the State Police Information Technology budget.

According to State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, internal affairs complaints have dropped significantly in areas around the country where police are using body cameras.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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