SOMERVILLE – Somerset County Sheriff's officers will be adding another piece of equipment to their uniforms - body cameras.
The Body Worn Cameras were purchased in 2015 with funds from a federal Drug Enforcement Agency grant, according to Somerset County Sheriff Frank Provenzano.. The Sheriff’s Office has been working with the Somerset County Prosecutor's office to develop standard operating procedures for the use of the body worn cameras.
“The Sheriff’s Office will utilize the body-worn video/audio recording technology to its fullest extent for the day-to-day law enforcement functions his officers perform as dictated by the Attorney General’s guidelines,” Provenzano said.
He said his agency will maintain the necessary safeguards that will ensure non-discriminating use as well as the proper preservation of evidence obtained through the use of this technology.
“The enactment of this new program will help to better serve the citizens of Somerset County by making both the officer and civilian accountable for their actions,” the sheriff said.
The cameras also can aid in investigations by capturing real-time incidents as they are occurring; assist in the collection of evidence; memorialize information at crime scenes; improve the ability to identify suspects and enhance the accuracy of victim and witness statements. The body camera video also provides prosecutors with an additional investigative tool in court proceedings.
A recent poll taken by the International Association of Chiefs of Police involving prosecutors across the nation revealed 93 percent of cases containing video evidence against defendants plead out.
The videos also will be utilized as a training tool for all officers and supervisors on various levels of the Sheriff’s Office.
“The Body Camera Program provides an opportunity for the Sheriff’s Office to strengthen the relationship we have with the community we serve,” Provenzano said. The cameras will be worn by officers on specific assignments, routine patrol and K-9 operations.