RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rutherford police this week became the latest North Jersey department to deploy body cameras -- and Chief John Russo was pleased.
"It's a great asset," Russo told Daily Voice. "It's going to help us train and see what we're doing out on the street."
The state Attorney General's Office picked up nearly a third of the $33,000+ cost of the 20 cameras with grants to local police departments.
"We got them a couple of months ago, worked out the kinks in setting it all up and went live [Wednesday]," Russo said.
The department has a bank of 10 cameras worn by uniformed officers in the field while the other 10 charge.
"We constantly rotate them," Russo said.
"The only unknown right now is the back ends costs of maintaining them, keeping records and dealing with public information requests," the chief added. "That said, it's great to have. It can only help."
State authorities have said the new technology promotes "transparency, mutual accountability, and trust between police and the community" as an "objective witness" so that "truth rules the day and not emotions, agendas or personal bias."
State Police troopers began getting the cameras in late summer.
Although local departments aren't required to buy them, body cameras satisfy a state law requiring newly-puchased police cruisers to have mobile recording systems.
Several Bergen County police agencies -- including the county sheriff's office -- have bought the cameras over the past year.
"It is the 21st century, and we can’t sit by and only be reactive," Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino said.
"We have been videotaping our motor vehicle stops [for more than 15 years] through the use of in-car dashboard cameras," NJSP Supt. Col. Rick Fuentes said. "Those recordings have immeasurably improved our ability to supervise and have been widely used during post-stop investigations."
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