By Mark Rosman
MANALAPAN – Police officers in Manalapan are expected to join the ranks of law enforcement agencies nationwide whose personnel are equipped with body worn cameras that record an officer’s interactions with members of the public.
At a recent meeting of the Township Committee, the governing body accepted a grant from Monmouth County which will provide $500 each toward the purchase of 15 body worn cameras for the Manalapan Police Department. The grant totals $7,500.
Manalapan Police Deputy Chief Michael Fountain said each camera costs $1,023 and he said these will be the first body worn cameras to be purchased by the police department.
In commenting on the impending use of the cameras by police officers, Fountain said, “I am pleased the governing body has taken the steps needed to secure the grant funding for the body worn cameras through the grant initiative and has taken the next logical step for our modern day law enforcement officers in Manalapan. The law enforcement community has been moving toward implementing this important technology which we might very well see become mandatory in the future.”
Asked why police believe this technology is something the department should employ, Fountain said, “I believe this move to body worn cameras will continue to enhance the professional law enforcement services provided by the men and women of the Manalapan Police Department and further strengthen the police-citizen relationship in our community. Body worn cameras have the ability to show encounters with citizens and officers from an unbiased, transparent view.”
During the public comment portion of the Feb. 24 meeting, resident Bernie Frojmovich asked the members of the governing body to consider establishing an affordable housing committee in Manalapan. Frojmovich said the township had an affordable housing committee in the past, but it was discontinued.
Affordable housing is an issue before municipal officials throughout New Jersey as they grapple with state mandates and court directives that require them to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing within their borders.
Having a local affordable housing committee “will better prepare us for future affordable housing mandates and allow us to be proactive,” Frojmovich said.
He suggested that the affordable housing committee could keep residents informed about evolving affordable housing rules and court decisions and that its members could help to refine an affordable housing plan Manalapan has submitted to the court which outlines how municipal officials plan to address the township’s affordable housing obligation.
“It makes sense to establish this committee now,” Frojmovich said.
Township Attorney Roger McLaughlin said he has forwarded an email Frojmovich sent to the members of the Township Committee outlining his proposal for the affordable housing committee to Andrew Bayer, the attorney who represents Manalapan on matters pertaining to affordable housing.
“We are in the process of dealing with the court on affordable housing issues and that has to be a direct involvement, not through an intermediary” such as the committee Frojmovich is proposing, McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said he will report back to the governing body when he has more information about the matter.
Frojmovich thanked the members of the governing body for listening to his suggestions.