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Township Committee accepts grant for police department’s body-worn cameras

Hopewell Township has been awarded a $69,292 grant from the state to acquire body-worn cameras for the police department.

The grant will allow the police department to replace the 34 body-worn cameras that are currently used, ancillary equipment and technologies. The funds will allow the police department to start with cloud-based storage technology.

Members of the Township Committee accepted the grant during a meeting on July 19.

“We are very excited about this and very pleased. We have been using body-worn cameras since 2017,” Police Director Robert Karmazin said. “We always look forward to future technologies along with capabilities and building transparency within the community. As we applied for this grant, we were pleased it was well above the money that was dedicated to this through Hopewell and was beyond our expectations.”

Since early 2017, Hopewell Township police officers have been using body-worn cameras while on duty to record audio and video during interactions between themselves and individuals with whom they come in contact. The police department serves Hopewell Township and Hopewell Borough.

According to the police department, the cameras preserve visual evidence and verbal statements, aid in quality control and assist in resolving citizen complaints.

“In June, there was a new policy put out by the state Attorney General in terms of usage, storage, body-worn cameras and now with this technology and the money used for this, it will bring us to the next phase and allow us to continue on with this great program,” Karmazin said. “This certainly builds trust and transparency with the community.”

The Attorney General’s office is administering the grant program. The grant stipulates the funds must be used for the purchase of new cameras and the police department will receive a reimbursement, according to the department.

The grant also allows for funds to be used for related expenses, which include ancillary equipment and digital recording storage.

Gov. Phil Murphy, in November 2020, signed legislation focused on the use of body-worn cameras for law enforcement personnel.

The bills signed required every uniformed state, county and municipal patrol law enforcement officer to wear a body-worn camera and regulated the use of cameras by law enforcement officers.

According to state officials, exceptions permitted include officers engaged in undercover assignments, meeting with confidential informants and performing administrative or non-uniformed duties.

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