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Lampitt & Reynolds-Jackson Bill to Combat Child Sexual Abuse Clears Assembly

Measure Would Make Attorney General Set Policies for Keeping School Surveillance Videos

(TRENTON) – Continuing efforts to reduce cases of child sexual abuse in New Jersey, legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson to require the Attorney General to develop protocol for retaining school surveillance video footage was recently approved by the full Assembly, 77-0.

“Some school districts only keep surveillance footage for a short period of time, sometimes just a few weeks,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “That means that if a camera happens to capture misconduct, including the abuse of a child, proof of the incident may be deleted before the abuse comes to light. With this bill, we can better protect our students and ensure abusers are brought to justice by establishing specific protocol for retention and access to surveillance videos.”

The measure (A-4199) would require the Attorney General, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education, to establish a procedure regarding the retention of video footage for school surveillance systems. The protocol would address matters including, but not limited to:

· The amount of time the video footage may be retained;
· Measures to limit access to the footage, and;
· Compliance with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

“Without set guidelines for keeping video surveillance, it’s very possible that footage exposing incidents of child abuse is unintentionally deleted,” said Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon. “These videos could provide critical evidence in child abuse cases. Children who face this disgraceful, intolerable abuse deserve to have their stories heard and believed. By setting policies for school districts to follow in retaining surveillance footage, we can make sure more abusers are held accountable.”

Additionally, the bill would require the Attorney General to review the protocol annually and revise it as needed. The measure would take effect immediately upon enactment.

The bill passed the Senate in June, 40-0. It now heads to the Governor for further consideration.