New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) on Tuesday signed legislation requiring law enforcement officials to wear body cameras during class.
The two bills, S1163 and A4312, require all uniformed state, county, and municipal patrol police officers to wear body cameras and keep them on while responding to a call for service or to initiate an investigative meeting. Exceptions are places where civilians can expect privacy, such as schools or medical facilities, or officers doing any type of secret or clandestine work, according to a statement on the governor’s website.
Murphy referred to the need for transparency while signing the bills during the live broadcast event.
“We have made it clear that New Jersey is uniquely implementing vital reforms to promote transparency and strengthen public confidence in law enforcement,” he said. “Body-worn cameras are a wise investment in public safety that not only doubles our commitment to transparency and accountability, but also ensures that members of law enforcement have an important tool in carrying out their sworn duties.”
He added: “Today is another step that we know has a long way to go towards full understanding and lasting trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”
Lieutenant General Sheila Oliver, who serves as commissioner for the Department of Community Affairs, said the new bills would increase the commitment of garden state law enforcement agencies to professionalism, accountability and transparency, while “ensuring that our officers are in service when they feel supported.”
The new legislation follows protests that erupted across the country earlier this year, particularly over civilian deaths caused by officers, particularly against black Americans.