ACLU-NJ Voices Concern on Body Camera Directive for Police

July 28, 2015
Law Enforcement Body Cameras

NEWARK – Governor Chris Christie today announced an initiative to equip the New Jersey State Police with body-worn cameras, and provided state funding to help municipal police departments purchase the cameras. “The use of body-worn cameras will bolster trust and better provide for the safety and protection of residents and officers alike," Christie said.

The announcement included the release of a 24-page directive (PDF) to law enforcement from Attorney General John Hoffman that spells out policies and practices for the use of body-worn cameras.

Following is a statement attributable to Udi Ofer, Executive Director of the ACLU-NJ, about the use of body-worn cameras and the law enforcement directive:

“The Attorney General directive released today on police use of body cameras falls short of what’s needed to create police accountability in New Jersey.

“While it contains some important safeguards, it fails to address those very concerns that have triggered the public’s desire for body cameras in the first place. The public will not have a right to access the kind of footage—whether it's the chokehold used on Eric Garner or the arrest of Sandra Bland—that has sparked a conversation on police abuses.

“The Christie administration missed an important opportunity to create strong police accountability tools while also protecting the privacy and First Amendment rights of New Jerseyans.

“We have real concerns about several specific, key points:

  • Many important police interactions with civilians will not be recorded, including routine street encounters.
  • Public access to the recordings is too restrictive. For example, the subject of a recording isn’t guaranteed access to the recording.
  • Recordings may be kept indefinitely. That raises concerns about privacy, as well as First Amendment protections.”

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