Paterson gets grant to outfit more police officers with body cameras
The city of Paterson is getting a grant to help outfit more police offices with body cameras. But there are some who are saying that making sure the cameras are being used properly is just as important as how they are being paid for.
Paterson Police Officer Luis Gonzalez says that he is thankful to be one of the handful of officers in his department to already be wearing one on the job.
“It is beneficial to us and everyone. It could be something as simple as verbal dispute and minor that turns into a person with a knife,” he says.
Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh and Police Director Jerry Speziale announced on Wednesday that the city will receive nearly $800,000 in a state grant to buy 300 additional cameras. The department currently has 150 cameras, with only a portion in use. Funding is a big reason why.
The grant money will go toward more than just the cameras themselves. It will also pay for data storage and officer training. But some are questioning if it is worth the price.
Organizers with Black Lives Matter Paterson agree that more video means more awareness of police violence, but that it doesn’t necessarily mean more indictments or convictions.
Organizer Zellie Thomas says in a statement, “The movement isn't about having more evidence of police violence, it's about ending police violence…As long as institutions exist that do not hold police accountable, regardless of footage - Black and brown people will never be safe from police violence."
The Paterson Police Department has had its own issues with police brutality allegations and investigations.
“It’s about accountability on both ends – the police officer and the person interacting with the police officer. It’s about transparency and about trust we need to restore in this city between the police and public,” Sayegh says.
The department will receive that money from the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General over five years. Paterson police began wearing body cameras in December. That was before the attorney general mandated all officers in the state wear the cameras by June.