Bill Stems from Lawmaker’s Personal Experience & Would Provide Protection to Residents & Police Officers Alike
(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Charles Mainor, Angel Fuentes, Pamela Lampitt and Gabriela Mosquera sponsored that would eventually equip all police cars in New Jersey with cameras was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-4193) comes after Moriarty’s own personal experience.
Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden) was charged with drunken driving and other charges in July 2012 in Washington Township, but Moriarty told police he had nothing to drink that day. Dashboard camera video from the officer’s car showed Moriarty did not cut off the officer, as the officer claimed, and showed Moriarty passing sobriety tests without problem.
The charges against Moriarty were dismissed in early May, and the officer who filed the allegations has now been indicted on 14 criminal counts accusing him of making a false arrest of Moriarty and lying to support his claims.
“Having a visual record of a traffic stop provides the best evidence for police to use in court,” Moriarty said. “The video doesn’t lie. It doesn’t forget what is said. It is impartial and may, in fact, help reduce protracted court cases and litigation. To not have a visual recorder in police cars used for traffic stops is like having an office desk without a computer.”
Added Moriarty, “Without that dashboard camera, who knows how my case would have proceeded, and that’s a scary thought. I am grateful to have been afforded the protection that camera provided, but I realize not everyone has been as fortunate. I now want to make sure everyone in New Jersey eventually gets that same benefit and ability to protect their rights.”
The bill would require new or used municipal police vehicles that are purchased, leased or otherwise acquired on or after the bill’s effective date to be equipped with cameras. Specifically, under the provisions of the bill, municipal police vehicles that are primarily used for traffic stops are required to be equipped with a mobile video recording system.
“In this day and age of technology, this is common sense, really,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “This technology is affordable and readily available, so let’s put it to good use for everyone’s benefit.”
“Motorists who do the right thing and police officers who do their jobs the right way have nothing to worry about from this bill,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Plus, under this bill, the taxpayers don’t have to pay for this added protection.”
The bill increases the surcharge imposed on persons convicted of driving while intoxicated. The additional surcharge is payable to the municipality where the conviction was obtained for the cost of equipping police vehicles with cameras, as required by this bill.
“This is the right thing to do for everyone,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “It protects motorists, but it also would protect police officers from false claims of harassment and abuse. That’s just as important. In the end, everybody wins.”
“We have this technology available for the benefit of everyone, so we should use it in a sensible way,” said Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden). “We know these cameras can protect motorists and police officers, so let’s make this reality, especially knowing the taxpayers won’t have to pay for it. It’s the right thing to do for everyone.”
The bill was released by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee chaired by Mainor.