A bill nearing passage at the New Jersey statehouse would require all police cars in the state to eventually be equipped with dashboard cameras.
Currently, all New Jersey State Police vehicles come equipped with dash cams. However, municipal police vehicles do not.
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee voted on Monday, Jan. 6, to send a bill to the full Senate that would require all new or used municipal police vehicles that are primarily used for traffic stops to be equipped with cameras. If approved there, A4193 would advance to the governor’s desk. The Assembly already approved it on a 48-26 vote.
Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester/Camden, introduced the bill following his arrest a year ago for drunken driving and other charges. All charges were later dropped after law enforcement reviewed dashboard camera video from the officer’s car.
According to published reports, officer Joseph DiBuonaventura faces 14 criminal charges related to falsifying information about the July 2012 traffic stop. He was suspended without pay from the Washington Township Police Department.
Moriarty said he’s grateful that a camera provided a visual record of his traffic stop.
“Without that dashboard camera, who knows how my case would have proceeded, and that’s a scary thought,” Moriarty said in prepared remarks. “... I now want to make sure everyone in New Jersey eventually gets that same benefit and ability to protect their rights.”
Assemblyman Charles Mainor, D-Hudson, said it’s common sense to take advantage of dash cams.
“This technology is affordable and readily available, so let’s put it to good use for everyone’s benefit,” Mainor stated.
A dash cam benefited an officer in a similar incident with a state lawmaker. Assemblyman Nelson Albano filed complaints against Trooper Randy Pangborn following a February 2012 traffic stop for driving 71 mph in a 55 mph zone.
Albano wrote in the complaint that he was “humiliated, embarrassed and disrespected as a legislator” by Pangborn.
The Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards ruled last month that Pangborn “did nothing wrong professionally.” The panel fined Albano $500 for violating the public trust.
Albano, D-Cape May, lost his bid to keep his seat during the November election.
To foot the bill for adding cameras, drunken driving fines would include a $25 surcharge.
Time is running out for the bill to advance to the governor’s desk. The regular session wraps up on Monday, Jan. 13.
Meanwhile, multiple efforts underway in the New Hampshire Legislature would equip all State Police cruisers with video cameras and require troopers to wear cameras while on duty.
The Department of Safety reports that many vehicles are already equipped with cameras; however, there are about 260 without the technology.
At least 130 patrol cars would have cameras installed by July 1. All other cruisers would be outfitted with the devices by June 30, 2015.
Sen. Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton, said the cameras provide everybody with an accurate view of what actually happened during a traffic stop instead of relying on interpretation by law enforcement and others.
The bill, SB338, doesn’t provide a revenue source for foot the bill for the cameras.
Another bill – HB1575 – would outfit troopers with cameras to record interaction with the public.
According to a fiscal note, $500,000 would be routed from the state general fund to the Department of Safety to get the program running. The state would need to buy 350 cameras at $1,000 apiece.