New Jersey Police Must Now Have Video Recorders
In recent months, a number of videotapes have surfaced, showing inappropriate behavior by police officers. In New Jersey, state Assemblyman Paul Moriarty used footage from a camera in a police officer’s car to contradict the officer’s testimony, leading prosecutors to drop all charges against Moriarty. In the aftermath of his experience, Moriarty introduced a bill requiring all police vehicles to have either a mobile or permanently installed video camera. The law was signed by Governor Christie last September.
Moriarty was pulled over by police in late July, 2012, and asked to take a blood alcohol test. The police officer claimed that he pulled Moriarty over for making an illegal lane change. Moriarty refused to submit to a breath test and was promptly arrested and charged with both DWI and with refusal to take the blood test. A video from a camera mounted in the police officer’s car showed that Moriarty had not made the illegal lane change, as alleged. When prosecutors saw the video, they dropped the charges, knowing that they would not be able to admit any evidence obtained from the traffic stop.
The law as enacted requires video cameras for all police department vehicles used “primarily for traffic stops,” whether leased, purchased or obtained in any other manner.
A police officer may have a camera attached to his or her uniform or body, or the camera may be permanently affixed to the patrol car.
The use of video cameras can be particularly important in DWI cases. In addition to refuting or supporting evidence of probable cause to make the traffic stop, a video camera can capture any field sobriety testing to determine whether it was properly conducted.
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