N.J. State Police say all troopers will have body cameras by October

(Emma Lee/WHYY)

(Emma Lee/WHYY)

All New Jersey State Police troopers on road patrol will be wearing body cameras by October, state officials said.

It comes as protests continue around the country focused on systemic racism and police brutality, calling for transparency in law enforcement.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has said he supports the use of body cameras by police and previously estimated that all state troopers on road patrol would have the equipment by mid-2019.

But authorities said problems with the vendor forced the state police to buy from a different company and caused the delay.

“The previous [body-worn camera] vendor, L3, experienced significant hardware and software challenges that undermined its product’s reliability including issues with breakage, battery length and storage capacity,” said Sharon Lauchaire, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office. “While the vendor was working toward an updated product, significant delays and staff turnover resulted in the decision to obtain a new vendor.”

New Jersey State Police Troops A, B, and C — which cover the southern, northern, and central regions of the state — already have body cameras.

But Troop D, which is responsible for patrolling the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, does not yet have the gear. Lauchaire said those troopers are “expected to be fully outfitted with cameras no later than October.”

A recent fatal shooting on the Garden State Parkway was not captured by body camera because the state trooper who shot and killed a motorist was from Troop D and not equipped with one.

Bill McKnight, a Stockton University instructor and retired police officer, said it was not uncommon for police departments to struggle with technical snags or financial issues when obtaining body cameras.

“There’s always different dilemmas that come out as far as technology and the ability to obtain equipment,” he said.

But McKnight suggested the move puts the state police in line with law enforcement agencies across the country that are taking similar steps.

“I think it’ll enhance their ability to be very transparent in everything they do,” he said.

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