Reactionary measures against the American police state continue gaining steam around the country after protests in Ferguson, Missouri brought national attention to the controversial issue over one month ago.
The latest call for reform comes from New Jersey state Senator Donald Nocross (D), who announced during a press conference Thursday, that he is drafting legislation that would require all police officers to wear body cameras while on patrol.
Nocross says he intends to introduce the body camera bill in the “next couple weeks.”
The proposal came just one day after Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law requiring all municipal patrol cars be equipped with cameras.
According to Norcross, the body camera legislation, which is still in the drafting process, would apply to all patrol officers in New Jersey, including state and transit police.
He added that, similar to the patrol car cameras, soon to be installed in the next six months across New Jersey where they haven’t already, the body cameras will protect both officers and the public from false accusations and abuse.
“If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video is priceless,” said Norcross.
The Cherry Hill Police Department has since 2004 equipped all of its patrol vehicles with cameras, and in the past four months has been testing a program to bring body cameras into regular use as well.
Chief William Monaghan said he and his department are working to acquire a system that would allow them to “marry up” the body cameras with vehicle cameras, and upload all videos into a cloud-based service, where it can be stored and retrieved when needed.
“It used to be the old police adage that ‘If it wasn’t written down, it didn’t happen,'” he said. “Now with technology today unfortunately, it’s changed to ‘If it wasn’t recorded, it didn’t happen. [Body cameras] are the next step – it’s a logical step.”
Police across the state have issued statements of public support for the measure.
“The future of policing will be rooted in the implementation and use of body cameras in a thoughtful, tactical manner,” said Camden County Metro Police Chief Scott Thomson.
“By outfitting police officers with this new resource we can ensure accountability with officers and citizens in most situations. Furthermore, our mission as a law enforcement agency is to engage the residents we are sworn to serve and protect by solving problems and only using handcuffs and our gun as a last possible resort.”
Pioneering body camera programs have yielded positive results. After the city of Rialto, California required its 70 police officers to wear portable video cameras on the job, police brutality statistics fell by 60 percent, according to a controlled study recorded by the department.
In 2012 alone, complaints against Rialto police officers fell 88 percent.