NUTLEY, NJ - The Nutley Board of Commissioners met for a brief public meeting Tuesday, July 18 after a lengthy executive session. The hour-and-half closed meeting was held to discuss potential litigations and contract negotiations. Among the resolutions passed was a $15,000 grant for body-worn cameras for the Nutley Police Department.
Mayor and Public Works Commissioner Joseph P. Scarpelli was the first to emerge from the conference room and quickly apologized to township employees and the press for the very long wait. All commissioners were present except for Public Affairs Commissioner Steven L. Rogers, who had an excused absence.
Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco’s resolution request to accept federal funding of $15,000 from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant for the sole purpose of purchasing body-worn cameras was approved. The grant is administered by the State of New Jersey, department of law and public safety, division of criminal justice. The township will receive 30 cameras, costing approximately $500 each for the Nutley Police Department.
“We are getting 30 cameras, which will go to the officers. There are three shifts at the police department,” said Petracco in an interview. Nutley Police Department has about 70 employees total, in the field and in administration.
“We are going to do this as a pilot program for now. Although the grant covers the cost of the cameras it does not cover the cost of the servers and the man hours. With all this technology I have to put a police officer and IT [information technology] personal on this. We have to pay maintenance fees, which are very pricey and the servers. There are hidden costs in it. The cost of having an officer manage the system and review [the recordings] takes a long time. We have to survey all the costs and make a decision from there,” he added.
Petracco said he spoke to a few police officers and they were in favor of the cameras. “Some officers were happy to wear them. It’s a safety for police officers. This is not for watching our officers. It’s not a knock against the Nutley Police Department. There is talk that the state may mandate it down the road so we are getting a jump on it and trying it out,” said Petracco.
According to Petracco he doesn’t see a need for body-worn cameras in Nutley at the moment. “I’m an advocate having boots on the ground. Having police visible to residents is important, I’m not an advocate of having cops behind desks. If it becomes overwhelming we will end it. There is no conduct for this right now,” he said.
Presently all Nutley police cars have dash cams. Petracco explained when the police emergency lights are active so are the dash cameras. Cameras are initiated for every vehicle stop. “The dash cams are miced and all officers have mics on them,” he said.
According to Petracco the cameras should be up and running and on the Nutley officers by January.
Seven additional resolutions were also passed by the board. Commissioner Evans request to authorize the purchasing agent to enter into a contract with H-GAC Buy Purchasing Program to purchase goods and services from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2017 was approved.
Evans requests to issue refunds in the amount of $50 to Joseph Valano and $60 to Mark Reyes for zoning application fees; $50 to Sean Riley for a fire sub-code fee, $314 to Solar City Corporation for a permit fee were granted, as well as, a refund for overpayment of tax charges to 112 Walnut St.
Also approved was a raffle application requested for Nutley Elks Lodge #1290.
The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1.