AG Grewal pushes for all police departments in NJ to use body cameras
New Jersey’s attorney general is pushing for every police officer in the state to be equipped with body cameras.
The push comes after a deadly shooting in Asbury Park involving police. But some law enforcement officials are saying that while the cameras can be valuable, they are not without challenges.
“When officers use deadly force, even when – as most times – it’s justified, it’s still the killing of somebody and looks awful,” says Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante.
The deadly shooting of 39-year-old Hasani Best in Asbury Park last month was recorded on multiple police body cameras. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says that all police departments should be using them. But a state survey released Thursday shows that just about half of the state’s police department actually do.
“Everyone out there has a camera. They have smartphones. Why not have our own cameras,” Ferrante says.
Hoboken’s chief says that he would like to see his officers outfitted with cameras. He says that they are a tool to help in all types of investigations and promote accountability. But he warns that the videos have to be released and viewed properly and in full.
“That 10-15 seconds of an officer using mechanical or deadly force is going to look awful. And many of those cases have been used against law enforcement, especially in 2020,” Ferrante says.
The Hoboken Police Department is among the 55% of law enforcement agencies in the survey that does not have body cameras. Only 25% - or four departments – have the cameras in Hudson County.
But officials say that it all boils down to money. Many departments cannot afford to buy and maintain the cameras and systems. Grewal says that he can’t mandate cameras statewide unless lawmakers approve funding.
The survey found that 239 agencies in New Jersey have a total of 12,195 cameras. More details about the survey can be found on the Office of the Attorney General’s website.