Body Cameras

As reported by, New Jersey’s Attorney General will give out more than half a million dollars in funding for police departments across the State to purchase body-worn cameras.  The announcement marks the second round of funding for the devices after the Attorney General’s Office distributed $2.5 million last year amid a climate of national scrutiny of police practices.

“Police in New Jersey are embracing this technology as a way to build public trust through accountability, while also protecting and assisting new officers in their difficult and dangerous jobs,” Attorney General Christopher Porrino said in a statement announcing the new funds. “Every picture tells a story, and ultimately body cameras tell a story of better police-community relations.”

Proponents of the technology say the cameras keep both police officers and citizens who might make false complaints of abuse honest.  But there has been resistance in the State from some police officers and police chiefs concerned about the costs of the devices and the rules governing their use.  Civil liberties advocates have also expressed concern about how the footage might be used and who will have access.

Earlier this year, two unions representing State Police troopers and commissioned officers fought unsuccessfully in court to overturn a 2015 directive on body camera use from the Attorney General.  A bill that would require every uniformed officer in the State to wear a camera also died in committee amid concerns it amounted to an unfunded mandate.

An estimate from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services put the first-year price tag of outfitting the more than 35,000 officers in the State with the technology at $88.5 million.  Nationally, some police departments have been temporarily shelving their body cameras as they grapple with data storage costs, which can burden small police departments who do not have the infrastructure to deal with the large video files and say they cannot afford third-party storage services.  The grants provided by the Attorney General’s Office provide $500 for each body camera and related equipment.

Elie Honig, the Director of the State Division of Criminal Justice, called the use of body cameras an “investment” that “promises generous returns in the form of public confidence as well as savings in the resources devoted to internal affairs investigations.” The Attorney General’s Office said the first round of funding quadrupled the number of police departments in the State using body cameras, from 50 to about 200 of New Jersey’s some 500 agencies.  Under the new grant program, priority will be given to police departments that currently do not have any body cameras at all, as well as departments that meet other criteria including population and crime rates according to the Attorney General’s Office.

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Photo of Donald C. Barbati Donald C. Barbati

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues…

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues litigated before the courts and administrative tribunals throughout the State of New Jersey. In addition, Mr. Barbati also routinely represents individuals in various types of public pension appeals, real estate transactions, and general litigation matters. He is a frequent contributor to the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog, a free legal publication designed to keep New Jersey public safety officers up-to-date and informed about legal issues pertinent to their profession. During his years of practice, Mr. Barbati has established a reputation for achieving favorable results for his clients in a cost-efficient manner.

Mr. Barbati has also handled numerous novel legal issues while representing New Jersey Public Safety Officers. Most notably, he served as lead counsel for the Appellants in the published case In re Rodriguez, 423 N.J. Super. 440 (App. Div. 2011). In that case, Mr. Barbati successfully argued on behalf of the Appellants, thereby overturning the Attorney General’s denial of counsel to two prison guards in a civil rights suit arising from an inmate assault. In the process, the Court clarified the standard to be utilized by the Attorney General in assessing whether a public employee is entitled to legal representation and mandated that reliance must be placed on up-to-date information.

Prior to becoming a practicing attorney, Mr. Barbati served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Linda R. Feinberg, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer Vicinage. During his clerkship Mr. Barbati handled numerous complex and novel substantive and procedural issues arising from complaints in lieu of prerogative writs, orders to show cause, and motion practice. These include appeals from decisions by planning and zoning boards and local government bodies, bidding challenges under the Local Public Contract Law, Open Public Records Act requests, the taking of private property under the eminent domain statute, and election law disputes. In addition, Mr. Barbati, as a certified mediator, mediated many small claims disputes in the Special Civil Part.

Mr. Barbati received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, magna cum laude, from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Upon graduating, Mr. Barbati attended Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware. In 2007, he received his juris doctorate, magna cum laude, graduating in the top five percent of his class. During law school, Mr. Barbati interned for the Honorable Joseph E. Irenas, Senior United States District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey, assisting on various constitutional, employment, and Third Circuit Court of Appeals litigation, including numerous civil rights, social security, and immigration cases.