Police & Fire

Body Camera Program Begins for Scotch Plains and Fanwood Police

f0eff16f9672617ee526_Officer_body_cam.JPG
Officer Gerard Rites is using the newly implemented body cameras utilized by the Scotch Plains police. Credits: John Mooney
19575c31b0709d627f59_DSC_2327.JPG
Body cams are worn on the shoulder. Movements of the police officer are recorded with audio.  Credits: John Mooney
d4198c8f430d3c74d119_DSC_2324.JPG
Video from a police officer's body cam can be loaded onto a smartphone. Credits: John Mooney
f1f687e74bde676cf8b8_DSC_2328.JPG
Scotch Plains Police Chief Brian Mahoney, Officer Gerard Rites and Captain Ted Conley Credits: John Mooney
f0eff16f9672617ee526_Officer_body_cam.JPG

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The police departments in Scotch Plains and Fanwood have lauched county-funded body camera programs for their patrol officers. The program was implemented in the week of November 9th, 2015.

According to Scotch Plains Police Chief Brian Mahoney, the pilot program quickly paid dividends. 

"The first day we implemented the program, there was a foot pursuit where the cameras were used," Mahoney said. 

Sign Up for E-News

Officers are wearing the 3.5 ounce cameras during their patrols. Described as 'policing in the modern world," the cameras will provide an objective perspective in the case of a dispute between officer and citizen. This method has more flexibilty than the stationary camera in police cars, which cannot provide audio of interactions between police officers and members of the public.

“We’ve seen in a lot of areas that were studied, there’s been a decrease in use-of-force incidents and a comparable decrease in citizen complaints,” Mahoney added. 

The chief reasons that when both citizen and officer are aware they are being recorded, there will be more positive interaction.

“Around the country the implementation of body camera programs like this leads to greater accountability and transparency of interaction with the public.” 

The program is largest county-funded program of its kind, said Grace H. Park, Acting Union County Prosecutor. The Prosecutor’s Office used approximately $750,000 of its forfeiture funds – funds seized during the course of investigations because they were being used for criminal purposes – to pay for all of the necessary equipment, training, and servicing for the agencies that are deploying the body cameras.

“All of those nine agencies then agreed to fund the necessary equipment, training, and servicing for their body cameras for a minimum of two years thereafter,” Park explained.

Each individual camera costs $1,350 per officer, which is the average first-year cost. After that first year, police departments in each municipality will need to budget for the maintenance fees, costing about $670 per officer. Each patrolman gets his own camera and ID number.

Owning the cameras could save more money in the end because the video is saved on a cloud platform.

“As a cost effective measure we were looking to go to a system where once the videos from the officer's’ body camera are downloaded, they go to an internet based site, but it is a secure site that we only would be able to access,” Chief Mahoney said.

“High-profile events involving interactions between police and the public nationwide during the last several years have clearly illustrated that a divide exists between some of our communities and the law enforcement entities that are sworn to serve and protect them," Park explained.

"We feel that body cameras are just one tool that can be used to help bridge that gap, but they must be accompanied by improvements in areas such as training and community outreach as well."

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Scotch Plains/Fanwood

Summer Life Guard Job Opportunity in Union County

April 10, 2018

UNION COUNTY, NJ - Summer lifeguard positions are available at Union County’s public swimming pool, the Walter Ulrich Memorial Pool at Rahway River Park in Rahway.

“Union County’s Ulrich Pool provides our youth and adult summer job seekers with an opportunity to enjoy working outdoors in the fresh air all summer long while sharpening valuable life skills including leadership, ...

Why We Keep Kosher

Why We Keep Kosher

This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated.

To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of disappointment that so many Jews still believe the kosher laws to be outdated.

Politics IS Government in Union County

April 21, 2018

Dear Editor:

After Bruce Patterson of Garwood was stopped from speaking at the Union County Freeholder meeting of March 22 regarding the politics behind refusing to give the party line to a sitting Freeholder, I thought this brazen suppression of free speech could not go unanswered.

At the April 19 meeting I answered with these comments.

After ten years of following government in Union ...

Helping Teenagers Deal with Prom Night Stress

April 18, 2018

Prom can be one of the most exciting times for your teenager but at the same time one of the most stressful. 

It can also be very stressful for parents as they prepare themselves to accept that their teenager is graduating and soon going away to school, while planning a weekend away after prom night. Going to the Shore for the weekend or somewhere overnight has become more of the ...

Congregation Beth Israel to Hold Open House For Prospective Members

April 23, 2018

Congregation Beth Israel in Scotch Plains will hold an open house for prospective members on Sunday, May 6, from 10:45 a.m. until noon. Prospective congregants will have the opportunity to tour the synagogue and its Religious School and to meet Congregation Beth Israel’s leadership. 

The open house will take place during the Religious School’s end-of-year celebration.

Upcoming Events

Mon, April 23, 3:30 PM

Scotch Plains Public Library, Scotch Plains

After School Club for Teens at Scotch Plains ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

Wed, April 25, 4:00 PM

Scotch Plains Public Library, Scotch Plains

Speak with Congressional Staff on April 25 at the ...

Government