New Jersey approves bill to outfit police cars with cameras

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Jersey lawmakers voted on the final day of the two-year legislative session to advance a bill to the governor’s desk. It 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 voted 54-17 on Monday, Jan. 13, to send a bill to Gov. Chris Christie that would require all new or used municipal police vehicles that are primarily used for traffic stops to be equipped with cameras. Assembly lawmakers already approved A4193 on a 48-26 vote.

“The video doesn’t lie,” stated Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester/Camden. “It doesn’t forget what is said. It is impartial and may, in fact, help reduce protracted court cases and litigation.”

Moriarty 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 Angel Fuentes, D-Camden, said the bill is a win-win for the public and law enforcement.

“Motorists who do the right thing and police officers who do their jobs the right way have nothing to worry about from this bill,” Fuentes stated. “Plus, under this bill, the taxpayers don’t have to pay for this added protection.”

To foot the bill for adding cameras, drunken driving fines would include a $25 surcharge.

Similar pursuits are underway in Maryland and New Hampshire.

Multiple efforts at the New Hampshire statehouse would equip all State Police cruisers with video cameras and require troopers to wear cameras while on duty.

In Maryland, a House bill would require all police officers to wear a video camera while on duty. The effort is intended to record any interaction between the officer and the public.

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