Scotch Plains Police Department Introduces Body Camera Program


McKella Sylvester

The police departments in Scotch Plains and Fanwood will participate in a county-funded body camera program for its patrol officers. The implementation of the program will begin at the end of October.
35 officers will be wearing the 3.5 ounces of technology during their patrols. The program is Union County’s largest county-funded program of its kind. Described as ‘policing in the modern world,’ the cameras will provide an objective perspective in the case of a dispute between officer and citizen.
There is a correlation between the use of recording devices such as body cameras and the level in citizen complaints. “We’ve seen in a lot of areas that were studied, there’s
been a decrease in use-of-force incidents and a comparable decrease in citizen complaints,” said by Chief of Police, Brian T. Mahoney. Chief Mahoney has been working at the police department for 30 years and has been chief since 2005. Mahoney reasons that when both citizen and officer are aware they are being recorded, then there is more positive interaction. “What’s been found around the country is the implementation of body camera programs like this, we find that it leads to greater accountability and transparency interaction with the public.”


photos courtesy of Brian T. Mahoney

The Union County Prosecutor’s office will pick up the costs of the body cameras through the offices’ forfeiture funds from the Attorney General. Each individual camera will cost $1,350 per officer, which is the average first year cost. After that first year, police departments in each municipality will need to budget for the maintenance fees, costing about $670 per officer.
Owning the cameras could save more money in the end because the video is saved on a cloud platform. “As a cost effective measure we were looking to go to a system where once the videos from the officer’s’ body camera are downloaded, they go to an internet based site, but it is a secure site that we only would be able to access,” said Mahoney.
The Scotch Plains Police Department is currently waiting for the town’s council to approve the contract between the department, and Taser International, who produces the body cameras. “Once the council approves the contract, we should have the cameras by the end of October,” said Mahoney.