As national attention focuses on images from body cameras being worn by police officers in the line of duty, Gov. Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal released a report by the Interagency Working Group on Body Worn Cameras (BWC) April 9 of how the state should proceed with their initiative.
The report was produced following Murphy’s executive order designed to provide advice and recommendation on the emerging technology as the state begins to deploy the cameras to all law enforcement agencies in the state.
On Nov. 24, 2020, Murphy signed legislation that would require every uniformed police officer in New Jersey to wear a body worn camera while on duty. Prior to the legislation, fewer than half of law enforcement agencies had the technology.
“We welcome the recommendations of the working group, which focus on ways for government and police to work together to save money in purchasing body worn cameras and the related technology needed to operate them,” said Murphy in a press statement. “New Jersey proudly leads the nation when it comes to policing reforms designed to serve fairness, justice, and the safety of residents and officers alike.”
Four Major Recommendations
The working group made the following recommendations, as set forth more fully in their Final Report:
- The Working Group recommended against a single statewide storage system for BWC footage, stating that for the short and medium term, creation of such a system would be time and cost prohibitive. They noted that there may be technological advances in the future to make such a system more tenable.
- The Working Group recommended that the New Jersey Department of the Treasury aggressively negotiate with the five state-approved BWC vendors for an increased volume discount based on statewide purchasing for both BWCs and the storage to hold BWC footage, specifically focusing on cloud-based storage solutions.
- The Working Group recommended that law enforcement agencies seek to purchase, through the State’s contract for BWCs, cloud-based storage, as opposed to on-premises storage options, provided appropriate privacy and security systems are in place.
- The Working Group recommended that the Attorney General issue guidance expanding the types of officers who will be required to use body worn cameras beyond the uniformed patrol officers to include additional officers who are members of tactical teams, emergency response teams, or crime suppression units.
Further Review by Attorney General
Attorney General Grewal will further review the Working Groups recommendations and engage with community partners to discuss best practices. The existing AG Directive on body worn cameras will be modified via a new one, but it is expected to remain the very same.
“We will carefully review these recommendations as we work to support police departments in the statewide deployment of these important devices,” he said.
“Body worn cameras have the support of police as well as the public, because the accountability they provide is mutual— everyone behaves better when they know they are on camera,” he concluded.