According to a spokesperson for the Bloomfield Police Department, the police body cameras should go a long way toward improving community relations. This is especially important at a time when police officers across New Jersey, and the rest of the country, are being criticized for using too much force while making arrests.
The Bloomfield Police Department has come under scrutiny in recent years for alleged police abuse and racial profiling, according to a study by Seton Hall University. The Seton Hall study found that minority drivers were stopped disproportionately by Bloomfield NJ patrol cops. Additionally, two Bloomfield police officers were found guilty of official misconduct in 2014 for falsifying arrest records.
The body camera initiative began as a pilot program in March 2016. Bloomfield police were equipped with 10 body cameras, with that number increased to 22 body cameras in June 2016.
The cameras record an officer’s movements and actions. At the end of the Bloomfield police officer’s shift, video from the camera is downloaded into a police database.
The hope is that having Bloomfield NJ police officers equipped with body cameras that record all of their actions will help to minimize violent incidents. It is also believed that the police body cameras will make suspects think twice before committing crimes like resisting arrest or assaulting police officers.
Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia praised the new body camera requirement in a recent statement. Venezia said that this is one of “many steps this department has taken toward becoming one of the state’s most effective, transparent and progressive policing units.”
Venezia added that the use of body cameras by Bloomfield police officers will “reduce the chance of negative encounters and provide evidence that can settle disputes and avoid lawsuits.”
The body cameras used by Bloomfield NJ police officers cost approximately $14,000 each. Most of the funds for the body cameras will come from the New Jersey Body-Worn Cameras Assistance Grant Program.
For further information, access the NJ.com article, “After Accusations of Bias, All Bloomfield Patrol Cops to Wear a Body Camera.”