EDISON – All uniformed police officers will be equipped with body-worn cameras starting the first week in March, making Edison Township the largest municipal police department in the area to use this technology, Mayor Thomas Lankey and Chief of Police Thomas Bryan announced Monday.
Edison officials said they negotiated a two-year contract with Arizona-based Taser International Inc. to provide the Police Department with 125 body-worn cameras.
The package deal also includes 60 state-of-the-art dashboard cameras for Edison patrol cars and 125 conductive-electrical devices, commonly called Tasers, according to the township.
“I am very proud our Police Department is taking this progressive approach to utilize body-worn cameras and digital recording equipment for each officer and patrol car,” Mayor Lankey said. “These devices are now essential to modern law enforcement. Acquiring these technologies helps fulfill my Administration’s commitment to fortify public safety, to increase our Police Department’s professionalism and accountability, and to strengthen public confidence in our dedicated police officers.”
“Body-worn and dashboard cameras have become a vital crime fighting tool. They enhance our evidence-gathering ability in criminal and accident investigations and prosecutions,” Chief Bryan said. “The benefits to our police department and to the people we serve are enormous.”
Bryan said that visual and audio recordings from body-worn and dashboard cameras will help Edison provide a dependable evidentiary record, enhance the accuracy of police reports and court testimony, protect officers from false accusations, and help assist in supervision and training.
Each of Edison’s patrol cars have been equipped with other brands of dashboard cameras for the past eight-to-ten years. However, the new Taser-brand dashboard cameras will be compatible with the same digital data storage capabilities as officers’ body-worn cameras, Bryan said.
To pay for its new equipment, Edison secured a $62,500 federal grant awarded by the N.J. Attorney General’s Office, plus it is investing $365,000 in capital improvement funds to cover the first two years of its agreement with Taser.
When it comes to the use of body-worn cameras, New Jersey is at the national forefront.
Just a few years ago, only 50 Garden State law enforcement agencies issued body-worn cameras to their police officers, according to the township.
Today, after two rounds of federal grants funneled through the state Attorney General, more than 250 law enforcement agencies are now equipped with the devices.