The Jersey City Council approved a nearly $533,000 contract for the purchase, delivery, and software maintenance of 700 police body cameras at last night’s meeting.
“10.42, the body cams, do you have a sense of is there software maintains it and basically – I know there’s policy questions – but are we able to access the footage in case we wanted to release it to the public, would we be able to do so in a very quick period of time?,” Ward E Councilman James Solomon asked Business Administrator Brian Platt.
“Yeah, there is a process for that: we store the footage in secure servers locally and then are backed up. The challenge is though is it possibly being used for an investigation, that is confidential until that investigation is complete. So it depends on the situation and the footage being requested … There is a process for it, it’s just a little murky in that sense,” Platt responded.
Solomon followed up by asking if there were any technological limitations from having the footage released, which Platt answered by saying there are not, though noted that redactions still must be done manually and is a fairly tedious process.
The conversation and vote occurred just three days after a police officer shot a resident in the wrist after he “picked up and raised” a gun, according to preliminary findings from the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.
Many public speakers called for the release of the body cam footage from the incident, though it appears unlikely that will happen before the investigation is complete, which Public Safety Director James Shea had previously noted.
Also at the meeting, Corporation Counsel Peter Baker weighed in as to why the release of police body cam footage is rarely instantaneous.
“In addition to some sensitive issues and some confidential issues, sometimes there are crime victims that appear in those videos and the city can be held liable for damages if the identity of a crime victim is released,” explained Baker.
“Sometimes there are issues with confidential informants and that footage needs to be redacted to protect that informants identity.”
The resolution, which awarded a $532,730 contract to Houston Texas-based Coban Technologies, Inc., was approved 8-0.