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April 21, 2016

New Jersey's police dash cam law upended because of lack of funding

Council on Local Mandates nixed the law

New Jersey’s law requiring dash cams for all municipal police vehicles was struck down earlier this week.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Paul Moriarity, D-Gloucester, blasted the decision on Thursday, saying the council exceeded its authority. The Council on Local Mandates nixed the camera law, calling the plan an unfunded mandate.

Moriarity said the council does not have the right to decide if funding – in this case a $25 fee on each drunk-driving charge – meets the definition of adequate funding.

“This is a slippery slope,” said the legislator, who has asked the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to challenge the council’s decision.

A former television journalist with two Philadelphia stations, Moriarity’s 2012 drunken-driving charge was dismissed after video from a police cruiser showed his July 2012 car stop in Turnersville was bogus.

The assemblyman said the true costs of the camera mandate did not weigh the savings from less litigation, fewer trials, fewer police overtime hours and overall better behavior of police and citizens when a camera is running.

The 2014 state law was challenged by Deptford Township because the mayor felt not enough money had been earmarked to support the installation of cameras.

Deptford Mayor Paul Medany said it would take his town more than 15 years to pay for the cameras, which he costed out at $80,000. He also said that amount did not cover storage costs or the costs of supply dash film if a records request is made.

Medany said he would continue to oppose the requirement unless the state pays the cost in full and there is an opt-out option.

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have police body camera laws.