New Jersey state troopers getting body cameras under new policy

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New Jersey is buying 1,000 body cameras to equip all its state troopers and also announcing policies for local police on how the technology should be used. (WPVI)

New Jersey is buying body cameras to equip all its state troopers who are out on the road and also announcing policies for local police on how the cameras should be used by all police in the state.

Officials unveiled the details Tuesday.

Acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman said New Jersey State Police will spend $1.5 million to equip 1,000 troopers with body cameras over the next nine months in an effort to promote accountability and transparency.

"Body cameras will act as an objective witness in police-involved shootings and other use-of-force incidents," Hoffman said, "so that truth rules the day, not emotions, not agendas and not personal bias."

Troopers will be able to wear the cameras on their hats or their shirts. They will be required to activate them during traffic stops, protests, investigations and while making arrests.

They'll have some discretion about when to turn them off, "if necessary to ensure the cooperation of a witness, provided the officer documents the officer's action," Hoffman said.

"Videotaping is something our troopers are very used to, we've been doing this for 15 years. So the body camera gives us an additional angle on our activities," NJ State Police Supt. Col. Rick Fuentes said.

Departments now using body cameras give them high marks.

In April, Rowan University police began wearing body cameras during their shifts, the first college in the state to do so.

Other departments include Glassboro, Paulsboro and Evesham. They make the cameras part of their patrol officers' gear.

"It's been a total game changer for us. We now have the ability, even if we're wrong, we can make corrective actions and learn from it and show exactly what happened on video," Evesham Police Chief Christopher Chew said.

"I think it just keeps everybody in line with the needs of the communities and how people want to be treated and it keeps your mind set, focused on doing your job," Glassboro Police Lt. John Polillo said.

Attorney General's Office spokesman Peter Aseltine said troopers will be trained to use the cameras starting next month. The devices are to be bought in batches.

The cameras and computer upgrades have a price tag of $1.5 million.

Aseltine said the state also plans to use $2.5 million in forfeiture funds to help local police buy the cameras.

Police cameras have been growing in use, particularly amid calls from civil liberties advocates after high-profile police shootings, including last year in Ferguson, Missouri.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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