Princeton police in trial phase with body cameras on officers

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Some Princeton police officers will be utilizing body-worn cameras after the Princeton Police Department began a three-month trial-phase on Feb. 4.

Currently, the department has seven officers assigned and actively using/testing the body worn cameras.

The Police Department anticipates purchasing the cameras and using them full time throughout the police department after the trial period, according to Captain Chris Morgan.

“Using a body-worn camera will further the police department’s commitment to being transparent with the community as they will allow the officers to accurately document their interactions with the public,” Morgan said.

The department is currently working to identify the equipment they would want implement, according to Police Chief Nicholas Sutter.

“Once that decision is made, we will begin the procurement process by getting quotes and payment options.  That information will be vetted internally along with the funding options somewhere in the next few months,” Sutter said. “We are proceeding very deliberately with this process and have been doing so for the last several years.  We also plan on having an open public session to exhibit the equipment and obtain feedback from the public.

He explained that the department is working on refining operational policies and assessing the technology in this trial period.

“Once we near the end of this trial period we will be in a better position to assess pricing and funding.  I have targeted mid-year (around June-July) for implementation if all goes according to schedule,” Sutter said.

Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert sees the body-worn cameras as an important tool for police departments.

“The footage collected provides a detailed record of incidents and having cameras also helps build and maintain trust with members of the community. The municipality has benefitted from taking our time to implement a program,” Lempert said. “Over the past couple years, the cost of the technology has fallen and there are now standard best practices in terms of developing a camera policy.”

She said the municipality expects to be asked to purchase the equipment at the end of the pilot.

“The cameras themselves are not the expensive part of the program – it’s the storage for the video that is often the bigger ticket item,” Lempert said. I support having our officers wear cameras as they are an important tool in fostering openness and transparency, and help undergird the work the department does every day to build trust.”