Cameras have become so common in public places that motorists might assume they are headed straight to video any time police make a traffic stop. That’s not always true, but perhaps it should be. A video record of what took place could be good for the motorist, as well as the officer, to combat false accusations.
That’s why a bill that would make video-recording devices standard equipment for all municipal police patrol cars in New Jersey makes sense. The legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D., Gloucester), would require that any police vehicles used primarily for traffic stops be equipped with a mobile video-recording system.
Moriarty has firsthand experience that proves the value of police-car cameras. In July, he was charged with drunken driving and other offenses that allegedly occurred during an encounter with a Washington Township police officer who had pulled him over. Moriarty insisted at the time that he had not had anything to drink that day. He was eventually vindicated, but the case could have had a very different outcome without crucial footage from a camera that was mounted in the arresting officer’s car.
The ubiquity of cameras in this country, including those found in cellphones, has many Americans rightly concerned about unjustified intrusions into their private lives. But from Moriarity’s wrongful arrest to the electronic surveillance that revealed the Boston Marathon bombers, there is strong evidence that, while there should be limits, having cameras in the right place can benefit the public.
The Philadelphia Inquirer