RED BANK: POLICE CAMERAS COMING SOON
Body cameras could be fully deployed by September, Chief Darren McConnell said. (Photo 2016 by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
As with all of New Jersey, body cameras worn by police will soon be the norm at Red Bank, officials said.
But state funding for the devices and associated data storage will only cover about a third of the cost, said Police Chief and Acting Borough Administrator Darren McConnell.
The program, mandated by state law and partially funded by state funding, effectively ends resistance from McConnell, who had previously hesitated over the cost of the devices and the perceived need in his department.
Although the RBPD secured a grant from Monmouth County to purchase body worn cameras in 2015, McConnell refused the funds due to concerns about data storage costs. He noted at the time that the rapid improvement in technology was driving prices down.
He also considered the need for cameras at Red Bank to be less urgent than in other locations due to the relatively low number of internal business cases resulting from the nearly 30,000 annual calls for service and traffic stops, he said at the time.
“I think the perception [of widespread abuses by police] is not reality, ”McConnell said. “We have certainly not seen an increase in complaints against our agents. “
But last November, following numerous abuses filmed by police across the United States, including the murder of George floyd in Minneapolis six months earlier, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law mandating the use of cameras by all “uniformed patrollers” effective June 1 of this year.
Last week, in response to a question from resident Alan Hill at the bi-monthly council meeting, McConnell admitted that the tide had turned.
“It wasn’t necessarily an investment I was prepared to make, based on our historical police complaint data,” McConnell said. “But all of this is essentially null and void at this point, as they are legally required [to be worn] by all New Jersey State Patrol Officers.
Although complaints from citizens alleging excessive “use of force” have remained low in the borough and none have been substantiated in recent years, the abuses and contested interactions “can happen anywhere” , McConnell said.
But the borough, like many of its state counterparts, would not be able to meet the June 1 deadline for full implementation because vendors simply couldn’t meet demand at the time. statewide, he said last week.
In the meantime, after obtaining quotes from several suppliers, the borough administration has “settled on a supplier with which we are comfortable,” said McConnell.
He declined to identify the seller “until we have a signed agreement.” But the total cost of 40 cameras and associated data storage costs will come to nearly $ 250,000, he said. rougebancvert Thursday.
Under a reimbursement program Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced on Tuesday that Red Bank will receive $ 81,520 out of $ 58 million allocated to 487 law enforcement agencies statewide.
Since this is a reimbursement, the borough will need to budget for a down payment first, but has delayed doing so until it receives Trenton’s pledge of the amount, McConnell said.
McConnell said he couldn’t be specific on a date for the full implementation of the video system. “It could be in September, but the whole police department will be equipped shortly,” he said.
Mayor Pasquale Menna, a lawyer who has worked as a city attorney for most of the past 35 years, said camera footage can be “incredibly useful” for officers and civilians.
He said he often advises pro-se defendants who wish to challenge the charges to first obtain the video footage before going to trial.
“People call back often and say, ‘Thanks for that suggestion – I got the record, I watched it and, yes, that was me.’ Or maybe, ‘it wasn’t me.’ So it’s very useful, ”he said. “I believe in it a lot.”
Last week Grewal expanded the camera port mandate to include SWAT teams, proactive application groups, canine units and agents who have “regular interaction with the public”.