Legislation passed earlier this year to require patrol officers to wear body cameras included a hostile prohibition on the officers from reviewing or receiving an accounting of the camera recordings before creating any required initial reports, statements, and interviews regarding the recorded event.
The full legislature has now passed a bill to reverse this prohibition. Assembly sponsors Shanique Speight (D-Essex), Eliana Pintor Marin(D-Essex), Annette Chapparo (D-Hudson), Angela McKnight (D-Hudson), and Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex) explain that removing this hostile prohibition will give law enforcement officers access to the tools needed for accurate reporting.
The bill (A-5864) will provide law enforcement officers with an affirmative right to review or receive an accounting of certain body-worn camera recordings prior to creating any required initial reports, statements, and interviews regarding the recorded event, except if the body-worn camera recording contains images involving:
(1) an encounter about which a complaint has been registered by a subject of the body-worn camera recording;
(2) the use of police force resulting in death or serious bodily injury;
(3) the discharge of a firearm by a law enforcement officer;
(4) the death of a person while in police custody; or
(5) an incident that is the subject of an internal affairs complaint.
The sponsors issued the following statement on the bill,
“Law enforcement officers may respond to a number of emergency calls a day and, many times it is impossible to complete all reports in one day. Allowing the body camera footage to be viewed prior to filing a report is another tool that will help ensure accuracy and continued transparency in police reporting. This doesn’t mean the body camera footage can’t be viewed after the report is submitted or even not viewed at all. There are also clear instances—discharging of a firearm or use of police force resulting in death— when the footage cannot be viewed by an officer. This legislation gives law enforcement officers the option to use the video to help with filing reports for everyday calls such as when they are simply helping people connect to different resources.”
The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.