NEW JERSEY — On the streets of Essex County on Tuesday there was a new feature on dozens of officers in the Sheriff's Office, body cams.
Sheriff Armando Fontoura unveiled the watch guard cameras at a news conference in Newark saying that the cameras, like in other cities, will help provide unprecedented insight as to whether or not the law was being obeyed by a citizen as well as an officer during an engagement. Fontoura added that, "None of our officers are perfect. If any of our officers overstep his or her authority there are consequences that must and will be faced."
Essex County prosecutor Carolyn Murray mentioned that the cameras have a track record producing positive results when it comes to conduct.
"I think studies have shown conclusively in any area where body camera have been used that conduct improves both by officers and by citizens," said Murray.
According to law enforcement, Essex County produces a third of all crime activity in New Jersey, statistics that members of the Sheriff's Office Ministers' Alliance want to change. Which is why religious leaders are embracing body cams.
One leader stating during a news conference that, "all lives matter and we believe that this will be something that will improve the community and the relationship with the community and so all lives matter. Police officers lives matter. Community members lives matter."
Minutes after the news conference PIX11 News encountered one of the body cams in the field as it was activated at a routine traffic stop.
A few blocks away from the stop individuals provided their thoughts on the pilot program. One man echoing the sentiments heard on a few occasions, "I do feel it will hold both sides accountable."
When asked if this initiative was overdue considering how prevalent cameras are in today's society, Sacha Barker offered up the following, "Being that we have cameras on phones and everything else, why shouldn't it be on police officers."