TRENTON –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced today that $566,000 in funding for body cameras was awarded to 37 law enforcement agencies across the state, including Northfield, Longport and Hamilton Township in Atlantic County.
Since 2015, the Attorney General’s Office has provided more than $4.5 million for body cameras that promote transparency, mutual accountability, and trust between police and the community, Porrino said in a statement Wednesday, Jan. 11.
Porrino announced the availability of grant funds on Sept. 20 and invited agencies that had not received funds in 2015 to apply. Today, he announced 37 agencies that applied received funds, and most received funding for all of the body cameras requested. The $566,000 will help to fund purchases of 1,132 body cameras. Agencies can use up to $500 in grant funds for each camera or camera package, including camera and related equipment. Police departments in 15 of New Jersey’s 21 counties received awards.
Hamilton Township received $20,000 to purchase 40 body cameras, Longport received $3,000 for six body cameras, and Northfield was awarded $4,500 for nine body cameras.
This round of grants is being funded by the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. JAG funds are appropriated by Congress to the U.S. Department of Justice to assist states and local units of government in carrying out programs to prevent and control crime and to improve the functioning of the criminal justice system.
In July 2015, Governor Chris Christie and the Attorney General’s Office announced a total of $4 million in funding for body cameras using criminal forfeiture funds, $1.5 million to fully equip the New Jersey State Police with body cameras for every officer conducting patrol duties, and $2.5 million for 176 police departments to purchase more than 5,000 cameras.
“We’ve made positive police-community relations a top priority in New Jersey through policies and programs that have been embraced by law enforcement and community stakeholders alike, including our efforts to promote the use of body cameras by police,” Porrino said. “This new round of funding for body cameras will keep New Jersey in the vanguard nationally in using this technology, which promotes transparency in policing while protecting officers in their difficult and dangerous jobs.”
“We’re rapidly reaching the tipping point where a majority of the police departments in New Jersey will have body cameras, and the remaining departments are likely to follow suit. Police departments recognize that these devices are powerful tools for promoting mutual accountability and trust between police and the communities they serve," Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig said.
The decision to acquire body-worn cameras remains up to individual police departments and municipalities. There are nearly 500 law enforcement agencies in the state. Since funding has become available, the number of police departments employing the use of body cameras has increased to 240, up from 50 two years ago, Porrino said.
A full list of the awards by agency is posted at www.njpublicsafety.com.