This month all of the Asbury Park Police Department’s sworn officers will be outfitted with body worn camera, according to Acting Police Chief Anthony Salerno.
“In light of the increased tensions between the public and law enforcement nationally, there’s been a huge public cry regarding police brutality and officer conduct,” Salerno [shown below] said in March statement following the City Council appropriation approval.
“If you believe the studies, the body worn cameras reduce frivolous and false reporting of police misconduct by 95 percent,” Salerno said in an June 28 interview. “Just like video recorded in the cars, I believe these cameras will work to the benefit of the police department in terms of credibility of the officers and prosecution of criminals.”
The high-definition Panasonic cameras meet the U.S. Attorney General’s specifications and guidelines and have the capability of not only zooming in on an image but also can be calibrated to focus in on a particular angle, he said.
“It will give everyone an opportunity to see exactly what happens on a given incident,” Salerno said. “The prosecution of cases will greatly be enhanced because there is nothing better than video to show to a jury.”
The cameras [shown at right on Officer Kirby Vargas] are capable of capturing everything a police officer sees, hears and says, in thirty frames-per-second and are compatible with the current vehicle-mounted cameras, installed in 2013, he said.
“The body worn cameras with the mobile video recordings in cars and the individual microphones that are assigned to all uniformed patrol officer, we will have a clear, concise, accurate picture of what takes place on citizen encounters,” Salerno said. “In addition, the officers will know their actions and statements are being videotaped, that their conduct – no matter how stressful a situation might be, warrants them to conduct themselves in a professional manner.”
Salerno said the cameras, body worn and those strategically placed throughout the city, will go a long way to increasing trust with the community. There are 64 working cameras placed throughout the city, he said.
“I believe the trust has been growing but the deterioration did not happen overnight and it won’t be fixed overnight,” Salerno said. “This is just another opportunity to increase the trust with the residents we serve.”
The cameras were purchased in March with a $35,000 grant from the Attorney General’s Body Worn Camera Assistance Project. A total of $2.5 million grants were awarded under the program.
The city funded portion of the bill for the 70 cameras was $54,987.50, paid for via bond, according to a March 22 news release.
The Asbury Park Sun is affiliated with the triCityNews newspaper.