While there may be some police departments in the State of NJ that do not require their officers to wear body cameras while on duty, the Newark Police Division (NPD) has made it a part of their policy that“body-worn cameras shall be worn to provide additional documentation of police-citizen encounters.” The footage that is captured when a police officer’s body cam is activated “assists personnel in the performance of their duties by providing an accurate and unbiased recorded account of an incident.”
For example, let’s say an officer made a violent arrest and covered up his behavior by claiming a suspect was being combative. That same officer was later recognized in a complaint for applying excessive force. While it would normally be the officer’s word against the suspect’s given there were no witnesses around at the time of the alleged incident, the body camera footage would actually be able to confirm or deny the accusations that were made.
Without body camera footage, it makes it difficult for a suspect to prove that they were mistreated by an officer which is why some will turn their cameras off when it is convenient for them to do so (i.e. when they know they are going to engage in an act of misconduct). But, according to the State of NJ Office of the Attorney General, officers who are employed with a department that requires them to wear a body camera are expected to activate their body cameras during traffic stops, witness interviews, custodial interrogations, protective frisks, searches and arrests, and most importantly, during deadly force incidents. Any officer who fails to comply with the Attorney General’s Statewide Policy for Body-Worn Cameras puts themselves in a vulnerable position as they already made a mistake by not complying with their State’s policy.
What happens to the footage once it is captured?
Any footage that is captured on a Newark, NJ police officer’s body camera “shall be retained by the law enforcement agency that employs the officer for six months from the date it was recorded” [Source: SB556]. Generally, once those six months have passed, the footage will be permanently deleted. However, the department may be required to retain the footage for not less than three years if it captures any of the following:
- Any use of force.
- “Events preceding and including an arrest for a crime or attempted crime.”
- Any encounter in which a complaint “has been registered by a subject of the video footage.”
A Newark, NJ police officer behaved violently toward me and I think it was caught on his body camera. What should I do?
If you had an unpleasant encounter with a police officer in Newark and you think it was caught on his body camera footage, you need to contact a Newark, NJ police brutality attorney. The fact is, if you are able to get your hands on that footage that can prove the officer engaged in an act of misconduct, you could be entitled to recover a settlement from the department and/or the city for the pain and suffering you endured. To find out more on how you can obtain bodycam footage that contains your encounter with an officer, contact the Law Office of Eric M. Mark to speak with a NJ police brutality lawyer you can trust to help you.
The Law Office of Eric M. Mark is located at:
201 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07102