Technology is a major part of everyday life, but in the world of law enforcement it is changing the way crimes are investigated and prosecuted. The use of surveillance cameras has become in the words of many police officials invaluable.
Neptune City Police Director Edward Kirschenbaum had high praise for the cameras. He said they are so effective that the borough has a program to reach out to new businesses and residents to encourage them to install the cameras on their property.
“They are so inexpensive now, there is no reason not to have it,” he said. “Mayor (Robert) Brown started that.”
Kirschenbaum said the cameras have helped police make numerous arrests.
“They have enhanced law enforcement, we use it a lot,” he said.
Kirschenbaum also said the department posts still photographs taken from videos on social media sites, including Facebook.
“Case are solved because somebody recognizes somebody,” he said.
Cameras installed at the Neptune City Shopping Center have been a big help in solving crimes there.
“They (the cameras) are doing a fantastic job,” Kirschenbaum said.
In Bradley Beach Chief Leonard Guida called surveillance cameras “invaluable.”
“They are a great tool. I wish there were more of them,” he said.
Guida referenced a severe accident on Main Street where footage from a local business surveillance camera was used to solve a case.
The borough also has its own surveillance cameras at the Recreation Center where dispatchers can watch what is going on in real time and officers can be dispatched over to the site.
Guida also said the police department knows which businesses have surveillance cameras installed and if an incident occurs nearby they ask if the owner has any footage of the incident. He noted that more and more residents are having their own cameras installed.
Asked if cameras are ever a hindrance to police work, Guida said, “I couldn’t see why unless law enforcement was doing something wrong,” he said.
Guida also said his department has acquired body cameras for police through grant funding, although they have not been set up yet. They are scheduled to be in operation in a couple of momths,
In Asbury Park, Communications Director Michael Casey echoed the positive comments and recalled the footage taken of a shooting involving an officer on Springwood Avenue last year.
An officer had stopped a suspect and while patting him down felt a weapon, he said. The suspect took off running, before turning and firing at the officer. He was able to wound the suspect, causing him to stop and be arrested.
The video of the incident helped police make the arrest.
“It’s absolutely a good idea, it’s recorded, documented evidence,” he said.
Without them it’s just the word of the officer and the suspect.
Casey said before cameras police often relied on eye witnesses to help them make an arrest.
At headquarters police can monitor in real time certain crimes in areas where there are cameras.
“If a call comes in about shots fired we can observe the scene while they are on their way,” he said. “It puts us on location from headquarters. It’s advanced intelligence.”
Casey also said after a boardwalk restaurant was burglarized, the owners provided video footage to police, which was then put in newspapers, Nixle and social media.
“We reviewed the footage and it became evidence. We were able to make an arrest,” he said.
Casey also said cell phone videos have helped police make arrests.
“The phone footage of bystanders has assisted prosecutors,” he said.
The same is true for residents who have cameras installed on their homes.
“Residents are more than willing to send us footage,” he said.
Casey also said police are now wearing body cameras which they can turn on and off.
He said there are certain criteria when it is mandatory for the cameras to be on.
Overall he agreed with his law enforcement colleagues.
“Cameras are invaluable,” he said.