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July 28, 2015

New Jersey State Police to receive body cameras

The Christie administration will use $1.5 million to outfit 1,000 troopers with body cameras

All New Jersey State Police patrol officers are expected to be equipped with body cameras to record their public interactions by early next year.

Gov. Chris Christie's administration will dedicate $1.5 million from the existing state police budget to outfit 1,000 troopers with the devices, the Wall Street Journal reported.

A series of police-involved killings of unarmed black men has captured national headlines since Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last August. In response, protestors have called on law enforcement officers to wear body cameras, among other demands.

Last week, the NAACP passed a resolution at its annual convention in Philadelphia urging law enforcement officials to make body cameras and weapon cameras universal law enforcement equipment.

New Jersey State Troopers will not be alone in wearing body cameras in the Garden State.

The Camden County Freeholder Board voted in June to fully equip the county's police department with more than 300 body cameras at a cost of $390,000. Evesham Township, among other New Jersey police departments, also is equipping its officers with body cameras.

Paulsboro Police in Gloucester reported a 90 percent drop in internal affairs complaints after the department began using body cameras.

The high cost of body cameras, which run between $300 and $7,000, could hinder some departments from fully equipping their officers.

A Reuters survey, released in April, found that 16 of the 20 largest police departments have either equipped some officers with body cameras or plan to do so. But none of them have been able to equip all of its officers with cameras.

The U.S. Justice Department announced in May that it would provide $20 million in grants to assist local police departments purchase body cameras. The grants are the first portion of a $75 million, three-year body camera funding program requested last December by President Barack Obama.