New Jersey lawmaker renews police-cam push

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, February 28, 2014

An effort on the move once again in New Jersey calls for equipping all police cars in the state with dashboard cameras.

Currently, all New Jersey State Police vehicles come equipped with dash cams. However, municipal police vehicles do not.

The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee voted 5-3 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.

Gov. Chris Christie failed to act on the bill a month ago. His decision not to sign or veto the bill effectively killed it via a pocket veto.

“We’re here to try again,” Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester/Camden, told the committee.

He added a provision in this year’s version – A2280 – to include body cameras. The alternative to equipping police cars is estimated to cost only a few hundred dollars compared to a few thousand dollars for dash cams.

Moriarty raised the question with committee members why all police cars aren’t already outfitted with video cameras.

“In this day and age we have little corner grocery stores with video cameras. There’s video everywhere solving crimes and providing good evidence,” Moriarty said. “Yet we have a checkerboard approach with police cameras in municipalities. There should be standardization.”

Moriarty initially introduced the bill a year ago following his 2012 arrest 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 the dashboard camera, it would have been my word against the officer’s,” Moriarty stated. “I was lucky the police car was equipped with a camera, but I realize not everyone will be as fortunate.”

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

A2280 could soon be considered on the Assembly floor. The Senate version, S1305, awaits assignment to committee.

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