Rahway police will wear body cameras by end of 2015

RAHWAY — All of Rahway’s patrol officers will wear body cameras as part of their uniform by the end of this year, officials announced Friday.

Rahway is the latest New Jersey municipality to begin deploying body cameras to its police officers, following Morristown earlier this month and a pilot program in three Monmouth County communities. The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office also recently announced its own body camera pilot program.

“Often during an investigation, we will get several versions of what occurred but the video tells all,” Rahway Police Chief John Rodger said. “When faced with video evidence, most cases are quickly resolved.”

Rahway’s police cars have been equipped with cameras since about 20 years ago, a time when officers would have to change the tape each day in a VCR kept in the trunk of their cruisers.

Rodger said the new body-worn cameras will allow officers to record footage when they’re inside buildings or otherwise in a spot their cars wouldn’t be able to access.

“The dash cam sticks to the car, and only about 20 percent of our interactions are at the vehicle,” he said. “So we’re missing about 80 percent of our calls.”

The department plans to order 36 cameras, a project for which $85,000 has been budgeted. The final cost will depend on what vendor is selected, Rodger said.

Typically, about 12 to 14 patrol officers are on duty at a time, but Rodger said the extra cameras will ensure there’s enough for any details or special events.

Mayor Samson Steinman said the new body cameras are “the next logical step in the technology progression,” building on what he describes as success of the in-car video and audio recording.

“These cameras will provide the best possible record of police interactions and will further our efforts in providing the finest police services,” Steinman said. “While I believe we have an exemplary police department, this will add another level of accountability and the optimal evidence when situations occur.”

In Paulsboro, which instituted body cameras in December, police officials said they saw internal affairs complaints plummet by more than 90 percent in the first four months the technology was in use.

Gov. Chris Christie and acting Attorney General John Hoffman have each voiced their support for body cameras. Hoffman, though, added that the cameras also raise privacy concerns, particularly in cases involving domestic or sexual assault.

Katie Lannan | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com By Katie Lannan | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
on May 29, 2015 at 2:17 PM, updated May 29, 2015 at 2:27 PM
http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2015/05/rahway_police_to_get_body_cameras.html