Paterson secures funding to expand police body camera program

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PATERSON (PIX11) — Turning on her body camera has become second nature for Paterson Police Officer Amaris Colon.

“I know it’s there to protect me and protect others,” she told PIX11.

Colon is just one of a number of officers currently on the ground outfitted with the device intended to increase transparency and accountability between police and the community.

“Regardless of anything that happens, I know that it’s recording. And if anything needs to be reviewed, it’s there,” she said.

The city’s body camera program is now getting a boost from a grant funded by the state’s attorney general’s office of nearly $800,000 which means soon, almost every eligible officer on the force will be issued a body camera.

The grant will be funding the program for the next five years.

It’s a move officials say is going into the right direction.

“It’s about transparency, it’s about trust, which we need to restore in this city,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said at a press conference Wednesday.

The initial roll out of police body cameras didn’t go as smooth as expected when the program was first announced in the beginning of 2020.

The city has only dispersed a portion of the 150 body cameras it previously purchased.

A delay in training officers to use the devices was blamed on COVID-19 restrictions, resulting in a loss of $44,000 as services tied to a city contract were never used.

While the timeline of getting officers trained and outfitted with the cameras remains unclear, public safety director Jerry Speziale says it will happen in a timely manner.

The new stream in funding will helping coordinate the effort.

“In those guidelines, you know, you may have missed something, so we want to make sure that they are trained appropriately and they’re ready for the streets,” Director Speziale said.

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