After years of stalling the Newark Police Department (NPD) has finally agreed to place dashboard cameras (or as commonly known, MVR’s), mobile vehicle recording cameras in some of its 400 police cruisers. According to the police only 52 police cruisers have been installed with the cameras manufactured by Safety Visions. Along with the dashboard cameras this system provides body microphones worn by the police officers to record the conversation of the officer and the person he or she is questioning.
This criminal defense and civil rights attorney has for years has called for the Newark Police Department to install these cameras on all of its patrol vehicles.
For years some corrupt and abusive NPD police officers have abused the public at will. Because the NPD internal affairs was a joke, these corrupt and errant police officers would engage in dishonest acts with impunity, and in effect with the tacit approval of the various police directors and brass of the department. It has been my experience in practicing criminal defense and civil rights law in New Jersey for 21 years that in the vast majority of cases the MVR cameras actually exonerate many criminal defendants, and catches the cops red handed violating citizens rights, by catching the cops engaged in excessive force, the illegal searches of vehicles, the filing of false police reports which in direct contrast to what really happened as captured on the video and audio microphone.
Some abusive police officers have come up with various ways to dismantle the cameras and body microphones. Such tricks can range from simply shutting the devices off, turning the cameras away from the vehicle in which they are stopping, erasing or losing the tapes. With DWI arrests, when they order the motorist to perform the roadside sobriety tests they will routinely walk the suspected DWI motorist outside the view of the camera. In fact in 90% of the time that is precisely what they do, thus it is impossible for defense counsel to dispute whether the officer had probable cause to arrest the DWI suspect based on the field sobriety tests.
Sadly the NPD has decided to install these dashboard cameras in only a small portion of their police vehicles. Accordingly, because of the small number of cameras installed (7.69%) percent of the vehicles this will have a negligible effect on stopping the illegal conduct carried out everyday by some corrupt and dishonest members of the NPD.
If the NPD is really serious about protecting the public against abusive and dishonest police officers in Newark they must install the cameras and body microphones in ever vehicle on patrol in the City of Newark.
There is no doubt in my mind that because the United States Justice Department is now investigated the NDP that Newark has decided to install these cameras, and that without this investigation they would never been installed.
Law Office Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
Tel. No. (908) 354-7006
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Dated: March 21, 2012