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Rutgers police to start wearing body cameras

All Rutgers University Police Department officers will be equipped with body camera technology starting in the fall.  – Photo by Dennis Zuraw

Starting Monday, Rutgers University Police Department officers will be equipped with body camera technology.

Fourteen body cameras are being deployed this week, but the entire force will be equipped by the time classes begin in September, Chief Kenneth Cop said in an email to students.

“Body-worn cameras add a layer of accountability for the police and the public in that they will document what occurred during a call for service, as well as assist officers in the collection of evidence and aid in investigations,” Cop said.

The cameras will be used alongside existing vehicle dashboard cameras and will be turned on when officers respond to calls or are part of “self-initiated service calls," Cop said. 

RUPD supervisors will be able to review body camera footage and assess how officers interact with the public in order to adjust department training programs.

"This technology will also capture the positive work our officers are already doing in the field," Cop said. 

Rowan University and Kean University are two New Jersey colleges that both began using body cameras last year. 

Rutgers' new body camera program comes 10 days after gunman Micah Johnson fatally shot five Dallas cops during an organized protest over the police killings of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, weeks earlier. 

The University has been evaluating the use of cameras since last year, Cop said in an  interview with The Daily Targum last year

“Protecting the safety of the Rutgers community is our top priority, and body-worn camera (BWC) technology can be an important tool as it offers benefits to officers and the members of the community we protect,”  he said to The Daily Targum in September of last year.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s office is partially funding the program.

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