Hamilton, New Jersey Township the Latest To Push For Body-Worn Police Cameras
In the wake of countless controversial media reports, police departments across the nation continue to seek ways to increase the accountability of their officers and improve relationships with civilians. With that, yet another East Coast police department joins the ranks of the technologically enforced, as New Jersey’s Hamilton Township pushes for its force to purchase body cameras for its 169 sworn officers.
The state-of-the-art body cameras will be equipped with unlimited data storage — and, according to Mayor Kelly Yaede, will benefit both Mercer County’s law enforcement community and the community at large.
“Body cameras will protect both our police officers and our residents, building even further upon the high level of cooperation that already exists between our law-abiding citizens and our police department,” Yaede said in a recent news release.
Yaede also serves as Hamilton’s public safety director and has a large investment in this cause. Recently, the mayor submitted a request to Hamilton Council, urging the local legislative body to approve a five-year contract with the company Taser International. In turn, they would provide 120 body cameras, complementary equipment and storage services.
According to officials, the cost of the cameras and equipment for the first year will total to over $194,000 and will drop to about $100,000 in the subsequent four years. Additionally, the town plans to use a $60,000 Attorney General Body Worn Camera Grant in order to help fund the acquisition.
“As more departments adopt body camera usage, it becomes apparent that wearing body cameras in general is a win/win for departments and the public,” said Jubal Ragsdale, President of 10-8 Video LLC. “All across the United States and internationally, citizens are demanding more accountability from law enforcement agencies. This includes wanting officers to have video of their citizen encounters. When looking at body cameras, departments need to pay particular attention to storage costs and contracts. Many departments that were early adopters of some popular body cameras, quickly found that the storage contracts they adopted were much more expensive than anticipated. 10-8 Video has solutions that can greatly reduce those costs. The department here is obligated to almost $600,000 for just 169 cameras with storage resulting in a per officer cost of over $3,500.”
All across the country, the use of police car video systems and body worn cameras have been deemed a positive and productive solution for police officers to remedy their relationships with civilians. Even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which generally does not favor surveillance, sanctions cameras as a viable option for police officers.
“Cameras have the potential to be a win-win, helping protect the public against police misconduct, and at the same time helping protect police against false accusations of abuse,” ACLU senior policy analyst Jay Stanley said in a report from last year.