September 11, 2014, finally Governor Christi signed the Dash-Cam law which will require all New Jersey police departments to install these devices in their patrol vehicles. These dash-cams, or also known as MVR video recording devices, will video tape everything in front of the patrol vehicle when activated.
This new law is good news for anyone who is stopped by a police officer, since the video will now video all activity from the vantage point of the patrol vehicle front windshield. Normally, the device is set up to record back 30-seconds, prior to the activation of the device. The device continues to record until manually turned off, or the siren or overhead lights are turned off. Normally, by default, the dash-cam will activate once the overhead and/or siren is activated. However, the MVR tape can be activated manually, and can also be turned off manually.
Hopefully the new law will prevent police departments and its officers from falsely claiming that the video was not working or not installed in the particular patrol vehicle. Most often aggressive and dishonest police officers will patrol in patrol vehicles without dash-cam devices for the purpose of making unlawful DWI stops and arrests, claiming that the motorist committed a moving violation and than failed field sobriety tests. Further, if the sobriety field tests are done in view of the cameras, it might help eliminate perjured police testimony when the officer falsely claiming that the motorist failed the sobriety field tests, when in fact the motorists passed. Further, the law will now allow a jury to objectively view the dash-cam tape to refute or confirm a police officers allegation that the suspect motorist engaged in eluding of the officers during an automobile stop.
For years most police departments in New Jersey have fought fiercely not to have these devices in their vehicles. Newark, Jersey City and Elizabeth, to name a few, have refused to install such devices, and none of their patrol vehicles have any of these devices in patrol vehicles. Further, these MVR tapes will help eliminate police beatings and other abuses of errant police officers, because a patrolman driving a patrol vehicle with such a device will think twice before he commits these types of illegal activities on a motorist.
Of course some errant and dishonest police officers will find away around this new law by turning off the device, claiming it was inoperable, destroying the tape, or manually turning the device to the side, so that it does not depict the interaction between the motorist and police officer. Another trick that the dishonest cop will use, which I have seen multiple times with field sobriety tests, the dishonest police officer will move the suspect outside the view of the tape, in which case, the motorist cannot prove that the officer is lying and that he/she passed the field sobriety tests. Further, if the dishonest police officer wants to engage in an illegal search or beating of the motorist he will move the suspect out of range of the camera, since the cameras view depicts only what transpires in front of the patrol vehicle. Of course, the dishonest cop (which has occurred repeatedly in many municipal court and superior court cases) will tell the judge and/or jury that they moved the suspect outside the view of the camera for his or the motorists safety, but of course that story is likewise bogus, because the officer can pull his vehicle behind the motorists vehicle in such a way as to give a wide shoulder view of road in which the tests will ultimately be performed.
Lastly, the new law will only be applied to every new or used or leased police vehicle or otherwise acquired on or after the effective date (of this bill) which is primarily used for traffic stops shall be equipped with a mobile video recording system.
Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
Tel. No. (908) 354-7006
Dated: September 11, 2014
Union Essex, Hudson, Morris, Bergen, Middlesex, Ocean, Monmouth, County Criminal Defense Attorney, Jersey City, Newark, Elizabeth, New Brunswick, Eluding, Carjacking, Drugs, Guns, Weapons, Assault