Currently, South Orange Police Officers do not use body worn cameras. Several years ago the Department investigated acquiring them, but due to budgetary constraints the decision was made to delay that purchase. At that time, and currently, the State of New Jersey mandated that Mobile Digital Video Recorders (the in-car camera systems) be installed in all marked police vehicles. Body cameras were not required equipment and the State currently allows localities to determine if they will use them. Purchasing both systems would have required major investment in the initial equipment purchase as well as ongoing maintenance and data storage costs. Using the limited resources available the choice was made to modernize and fully replace the MDVR system. Township and Department administration are currently investigating the purchase and implementation of a body camera system.
Each marked patrol vehicle is equipped with two forward facing cameras and one rear facing cameras, known as MDVR’s (mobile digital video recorders). South Orange Police Officers utilize a rechargeable microphone that officers wear on their person to capture sound. The vehicle camera system can be activated one of two ways. The first way of activating the camera system is by turning on a vehicle’s emergency lights. The second way a camera system can be activated is by an officer manually turning on the system. A South Orange Police Officer is required to record the following police actions:
- Traffic stops, criminal enforcement stops, motorist aids, motor vehicle crashes, and pedestrian enforcement actions
- Vehicular pursuits
- Major crime scenes
- Any situation that should arise wherein the officer, by reason of their training and experience, determines that the incident should be documented on video tape.
A South Orange Police Officer shall not cease recording an incident at the request of any person or entity other than a police supervisor. A supervisor must have an objectively reasonable justification to direct the cessation of recording. All MDVR recordings may be reviewed and are stored and retained according to state-wide standards directed by the NJ Attorney General.