‘It’s helped tremendously.’ Body cameras usher in next chapter of police training
Gov. Phil Murphy was in Camden Tuesday as the state became the sixth in the nation to require all police officers to wear body cameras.
"This is not about that ‘I got you moment’ and finding a cop doing something wrong, it's about making them better so they can serve our community better," said Camden County Police Chief Gabriel Rodriguez.
Camden County Police Department has had body cameras since 2016.
"It's helped tremendously. Use of force has gone down and people just comply when they see a camera on an officer," Rodriguez said.
To make this possible, the state allowed all 487 agencies to apply for funding.
"Those funds are going towards outfitting our officers with approximately 28,000 body-worn cameras. All told, it's a $57 million investment in public safety," said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
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Murphy said this new initiative will usher in a new era of how police train to respond in certain situations.
Camden County already uses this technology in training.
"We're showing them actual incidents that they've been involved in, so we'll be pulling up on the screen their body-worn camera footage and walking them through an event of someone with mental illness or someone else that was resisting arrest," Rodriguez said.
SWAT and K-9 teams will also be required to wear cameras, but there are certain situations where these cameras will not be turned on.
"These rules will ensure the sanctity of places like our schools, our hospitals and our houses of worship, unless there is an actual investigation that requires cameras to be on in these locations," Murphy said.
The governor says he hopes this marks a new step in bettering relationships between police officers and the communities they serve.
"They are necessary, but not sufficient. I think that's the way we should think about this. We will continue our work to bring community leaders and law enforcement together for the vital and long-overdue reforms that will bring about a new culture of policing in our state," Murphy said.
Text and reporting by Erika Shych