PATROL CAR CAMERAS
The patrol car mounted video camera. This idea was met with much
skepticism by the officers who would it affect. After all, the biggest
proponents for the idea where those groups who get their 15 minutes by
publicly bashing the law enforcement profession.
However, an interesting result came about. Instead of putting more
headache on the law enforcement community, the cameras were saving
Take the New Jersey State Police for example. No other agency in the
nation has taken the abuse that has been thrown their way. Anti-police
groups were screaming for patrol mounted video cameras to finally catch
these “rogue” officers on tape. The cameras were installed. So, what
“rogue” officers were getting cleared of wrongdoing at a higher rate
then before the cameras were installed. In 2000, 584 complaints about
Trooper misconduct were received by their IA equivalent, the Office of
Professional Standards (Not bad for an agency of more than 2,500 members).
The patrol car camera alone cleared more than ten percent of those
officers. In a statement released NJSP said, “In 67 cases, the review of
videotapes has allowed the Office of Professional Standards to
expeditiously close investigations.
Additionally, the in-car camera video tapes have demonstrated that a
number of citizen complaints are totally without merit and are maliciously
filed with the intent of resolving or mitigating traffic summonses - cases
that are reviewed for possible prosecution by either the Division of
Criminal Justice or county prosecutors' offices.” Many of the
original skeptics in law enforcement now swear by the patrol car camera.
Yes, there are still those who don’t care for the “big brother”
element of the camera, but many are becoming converts.
How many incidents can you recall where you only wish that you had a
camera recording everything?
In today’s climate, it seems that we have more to fear by not having the
camera. Some citizens have no hesitation about filing a false complaint
and attacking an officer in pursuit of revenge, an improved stance in the
courtroom, or just out of pure, ignorant, disdain for law enforcement.
it be in the intake area of the Atlantic County Jail, the booking room of
the Holmdel Police Department, or on a vehicle dashboard during a motor
vehicle stop on Route 78, if we're following the rules, a camera can only