A bill halfway through 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 Assembly voted 48-26 on Thursday, Dec. 19, to advance a bill that would require all new or used municipal police vehicles that are primarily used for traffic stops to be equipped with cameras. A4193 now awaits consideration in the Senate.
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.”
Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D-Camden/Burlington, said it is the right thing to do for everyone.
“It protects motorists, but it also would protect police officers from false claims of harassment and abuse. That’s just as important. In the end, everybody wins,” Lampitt 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 this week 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 last month’s 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 Jan. 13, 2014.
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