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New Law Requires Video Recording Device in All New or Used Police Cars

New Jersey Legislature Mandates Video Recording Device in Police Cars

It’s now the law—every new or used police vehicle in New Jersey must be equipped with a device that has the capability of capturing a video recording. The requirement applies, regardless of how the vehicle is obtained, and covers all vehicles used “primarily” for traffic stops. The device must either be installed in the vehicle or worn by an officer, and must have the capability of recording activities that take place during a motor vehicle stop. The law makes New Jersey the first state to mandate video recording devices in law enforcement vehicles, though many states have been studying the potential impact of such devices.

The legislation was introduced and pushed by New Jersey Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, who was arrested in 2012 in a traffic stop. Moriarty was charged, but acquitted after footage from a dashboard camera (in the police vehicle) showed that he had not violated the law. Other incidents involving police, including the shooting death of unarmed citizen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, have led many to call for video recordings of police interactions. Many believe that if police officers know they are being videotaped, they will be less inclined to engage in excessive violence.

Opponents of the legislation, including the New Jersey League of Municipalities, argued that the bill required police departments to spend money without providing any funding. They say that cameras worn on the body can cost hundreds of dollars and cameras mounted in a cruiser can cost thousands. The new law increases DWI penalties by $25 per infraction as a means of paying for the devices.

Many public officials, though, welcome the use of the cameras, saying they are much cheaper than defending a lawsuit.

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