Evesham Twp., N.J., (CBS/AP) — A New Jersey Senate panel considered a bill Monday that would require most police cars to have dashboard cameras.
The legislation is intended to protect the public from false accusation and officers from complaints.
Whether it’s to catch bad police work or a motorists behaving badly, a South Jersey lawmaker says dashboard cams don’t lie and he wants them in all new police cruisers.
When a New Mexico state police officer fired into a van with children inside, or when a Cape May police officer pulled a man from a burning truck, it was the dashboard surveillance camera that told the story.
Now South Jersey assemblyman Paul Moriarty is pushing a bill requiring all new police cars purchased by municipalities that are used in traffic stops to have the cameras installed.
“The video doesn’t lie, it doesn’t forget, it’s an accurate record of what transpired,” Moriarty said.
Moriarty you may remember was arrested on what turned out to be a bogus drunken driving charge in Washington Township.
It was this dashboard video that helped prove his case and lead to the officer being indicted for official misconduct.
“It saved me from probably being thrown out of office and people thinking I was a liar and not trustworthy,” he said.
In Evesham Township, every police car already has a dashboard camera.
The bill would tack on a $25 dollar fee for those convicted of drunk driving to help defray the costs to municipalities.
The state police already have the cameras.
But despite costs that can range in the tens of thousands of dollars, dashboard cameras in Evesham Township are considered necessary to protect the officer and the public.
In fact, the police department is now even testing body cameras for officers.
“If a camera goes down in one of the police cars, that police car is taken out of service and they take another car,” Lt. Joseph Friel of Evesham Township Police said.
In a statement this afternoon, the New Jersey American Civil Liberties Union said:
“Dashboard cameras have proven to be valuable in keeping law enforcement accountable and in protecting police from false accusations of misconduct. They have played a central role in reforms at the New Jersey State Police over the past decade and have been embraced from top to bottom. We support the legislation and are looking forward to its enactment.”
The legislation moved through the Senate budget committee on Monday, and must be posted for a vote before the legislative session expires next week.
It already cleared the Assembly.
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