NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ— The New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD) is looking into the use of wearable "body cameras" for its own police force.
“The police department supports the use of body cameras and is looking into the logistics behind the implementation of body cameras 'department wide,'” said New Brunswick Police Captain J.T. Miller.
“There are several issues which need to be researched and addressed prior to any physical implementation.”
Captain Miller has said that there has not been a definitive timetable set for the use of body cameras by the NBPD.
In recent years, there have been several different police-involved shootings including the one that claimed the life of 47-year-old Barry Deloatch in September of 2011.
Advocates say that the cameras will improve behavior on both sides of the badge and also help protect upstanding officers who are falsely accused of misconduct.
Miller said that there has been not been any negative feedback from local police unions concerning the proposed implementation of body cameras by the NBPD.
New Brunswick is not alone in its attempts to increase police accountability by way of wearable cameras.
As reported by PatersonPress.com, the state's three biggest cities (Newark, Jersey City, and Paterson) are planning to purchase 1,100 body cameras for its police department and police there could start wearing them by the end of the summer or early fall.
Increased use of police body cameras comes at a time when there is increasing amount of tension between citizens and local police departments especially in the wake of police-related deaths and other abuses of power across the country, including high-profile incidents like the in-custody death of 25-year-old Freddy Gray in Baltimore, Maryland last month.
At least 20 different police agencies in New Jersey currently use cameras including Atlantic City PD and Evesham PD.
There is a significant financial costs associated with the use of body cameras, accoridng to Miller.
“The cost of outfitting the department with body cameras and the underlying components is significant,” said Miller.
“Not only do the physical cameras have to be purchased, but there is the cost of chargers, software and licensing, IT servers, retention hardware and software, and service and maintenance fees.”
According to a Washington Post article from May 1, the U.S. Department of Justice plans to award nearly $20 million in funding for such expenses to dozens of departments, about a third of them small law enforcement agencies.
In addition, another $1 million will be set aside so that the Bureau of Justice Statistics can figure out how to study the actual impact of these cameras.
Miller has said that the NBPD is also examining issues relating to the use of body cameras and protecting the public’s right to privacy.
“There will be instances when the victims of domestic violence, or juveniles, or uninvolved persons will be recorded on video,” said Miller.
“These individuals among others need to be protected and procedures need to be put in place to ensure their privacy rights are not violated.”
Rutgers Police Deparment and the Middlesex County Sheriff's Office, two of the other large police agencies based in New Brunswick, did not respond to questions about their position on body-worn cameras.