The City Council approved the purchase of the cameras at its March 16 meeting after the city was awarded a $35,000 grant under the Attorney General’s BWC Assistance Project in February to off-set the costs of the cameras.
That brings the price per camera from $1,285.54 to $785.54, for a total cost of $54,987.50 to the city for the 70 BWCs, according to a release from Hannah Walker, Director of Communications.
Acting Police Chief Anthony Salerno said the cameras will begin operating by mid-summer after police officers are trained in their use.
“In this day and age, with all the technology that’s available, we’d be fools to not utilize all available technology and equipment that’ll help us to more efficiently and effectively do our jobs as law enforcement officers,” Salerno said
Salerno pledged that the Asbury Park police department will be first rate in enforcing the law, reducing crime and the fear associated with it in Asbury Park.
“In light of the increased tensions between the public and law enforcement nationally, there’s been a huge public cry regarding police brutality and officer conduct. That’s evolved into law enforcement responding, and doing so with all available technology.” he said.
The BWCs will capture what the police officer wearing them sees, hears, and says, in 30 frames-per-second high definition. The department is currently making sure systems are in place for storage and retrieval of BWC footage. The technology will be compatible with the APPD’s current vehicle-mounted cameras, which were installed in 2013.
A survey conducted by the Police Executive Resource Forum estimated that about 25 percent of all police departments are currently using BWCs, a number that the US Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance puts at between 4,000 and 6,000 departments.
In May 2015 the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office launched a pilot program for BWCs in Howell, Middletown, and Wall Township Police Departments.
National studies on the impact of body worn cameras are still ongoing, but the Bureau of Justice Assistance has seen a consistent decline in the number of complaints made against officers in communities that have BWCs. BWCs can give additional evidence to criminal investigations, speed up the process of reviewing complaints against officers, increase the safety of both officers and citizens, and boost trust and transparency between law enforcement and the public.
The Asbury Park Police Department BWCs and the policies attached to them are in line with the standards set by the US Attorney General, which were passed on to the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office.
The standards were reviewed by the Asbury Park Police Department, which adjusted some elements to suit the city’s needs.