By Jason Laday | South Jersey Times
A bill introduced in Trenton this week would require all county, state and municipal police officers on patrol to wear body cameras.
State Sen. Donald Norcross (D-5, of Camden) and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-4, of Washington Township), announced the introduction of the bill in a joint statement on Friday. The pair had previously stated their intention of drafting such legislation during a press conference in September, after Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a bill, introduced by Moriarty, requiring local police cars to have dashboard cameras.
“Body cameras are the next logical step in public safety,” said Norcross in the statement. “We laid the groundwork with the dashboard bill, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see other states following suit. Now it’s time to get cameras on all our patrol officers.”
The body camera bill — S2518 in the Senate and A3852 in the Assembly — expands on the dash-cam law by requiring all police officers who are “primarily assigned to patrol duty” to wear a mobile video recording system, Norcross said.
Under the bill, the new body cameras would be paid for partly by increasing the surcharge on those convicted of DWI, from $100 to $125. Additional funds could potentially come from drug forfeiture fees and surcharges on Megan’s Law violators, according to the joint statement.
The bill would also call on the state Attorney General’s Office to create guidelines for the independent review of the resulting video footage, and to determine what can be released to the public upon request.
“I have spoken with individuals and groups on both sides of this issue, and everyone agrees — video cameras protect the police and the public alike,” said Moriarty in the statement. “Video footage doesn’t lie. It can back up civilian claims of excessive force and abuse as easily as they can protect officers who have been wrongly accused of impropriety.”
Moriarty sponsored the vehicle camera bill after an in-car video captured his 2012 DWI arrest, and provided evidence that led to a dismissal of all charges. The video also led to the indictment of the officer on 14 criminal charges, including falsifying a police report.
Several police departments throughout the state have begun their own body camera programs, including Evesham and Cherry Hill.
Norcross is the sole primary sponsor of the body camera bill in the Senate. In the Assembly, primary sponsors include Moriarty, Law and Public Safety Committee Chairman Charles Mainor (D-31, of Jersey City), Vincent Mazzeo (D-2, of Northfield), Angel Fuentes (D-5, of Camden), Gilbert “Whip” Wilson (D-5, of Camden) and Carmelo Garcia (D-33, of Hoboken).
Read the press release at www.assemblydems.com
Legislation Assemblywomen Gabriela Mosquera and Cleopatra G. Tucker sponsored to study the impact of disabilities on individuals in minority and underrepresented communities was released recently by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-3632) would require the commissioner of the Department of Health, in consultation with the commissioner of the Department of Human Services, to review the impact of disabilities on individuals in minority and underrepresented communities. The two department heads would be required to submit a report of their findings and recommendations to the governor and the legislature within a year of the legislation taking effect.
“The impact study this legislation calls for will enable the state to work toward justice and independence for minorities with disabilities,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “Several disheartening factors related to racial and ethnic background as well as socio-economic class combine to put members of this particular group at a disadvantage. They are often uninsured or underinsured and have less access to public services they require, like high-quality accessible transportation. Improving their overall quality of life starts will understanding the unique challenges they face and determining how we can best address them.”
“Overall, members of racial and ethnic minorities have less access to job opportunities, education, health care, housing and other vital services, and unfortunately, studies show that those with disabilities face even greater challenges in these areas,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “In order to provide the best possible services and to alleviate limitations that burden minorities with disabilities, it is imperative for the state to be proactive.”
After passing in both houses during the last legislative session, the bill was conditionally vetoed by the governor. Tucker in September reintroduced the bill.
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Human Services Committee.
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gabriela Mosquera, Troy Singleton, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel R. Benson, Herb Conaway Jr., Carmelo Garcia, Celeste Riley, and Ralph Caputo to allow gross income taxpayers to use their returns to make voluntary contributions to the Greater Philadelphia and Greater New York Chapters of the ALS Association for services provided to New Jersey residents was advanced recently by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-3290) requires gross income tax returns to include a provision to allow taxpayers to make voluntary donations to the ALS Association for taxable years beginning on or after the date of enactment. The measure establishes the ALS Association Support Fund as a depository for the donations.
“The mission of the ALS Association is to lead the fight to treat and cure ALS through global research and nationwide advocacy, while also empowering people with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support through a nationwide network of chapters,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Making it easier for New Jerseyans to donate to support this cause is the right thing to do.”
The bill directs 50 percent of deposits to the ALS Association Support Fund to be appropriated to the Greater Philadelphia chapter of the ALS Association for services the organization provides to residents located in southern New Jersey and 50 percent of deposits to be appropriated to the Greater New York Chapters of the ALS Association for services provided to residents in central and northern New Jersey. The bill additionally authorizes the Division of Taxation to retain sufficient receipts from the donations to cover administrative costs.
“ALS is a terrible disease and we need to make it as easy as possible to support the effort to overcome it,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “A simple step like this could go a long way toward finding a cure, which is our shared goal.”
“For New Jerseyans able to do so, this option could make it easier to donate to this worthy cause,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We all want to put an end to ALS, and anything that helps the cause is a step forward.”
“ALS advocacy and funding are critical in the effort to care for and support men and women with this illness,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “This legislation will provide New Jersey residents with the means to help improve the overall quality of life for those living with ALS and end the disease altogether.”
“During the past few months, we’ve seen unprecedented funding and attention go toward curing ALS, and this bill has the potential to keep that momentum going,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “The easier we make it for people across New Jersey to contribute to the ALS Association, the more likely it is that they will join in the fight against this debilitating illness.”
“When people know how they can help and that they’re giving to a reputable organization, they want to contribute,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “This legislation will facilitate giving and provide New Jersey residents with a way to support those living with ALS.”
“Every year, thousands of men and women across the nation receive an ALS diagnosis, and along with the physical difficulties, they must prepare for new financial burdens,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “The recent surge in awareness and fundraising for the ALS Association was outstanding, but we can’t let that be a one-time thing. This bill will help provide much-needed support for New Jersey residents with ALS well into the future.”
“In a single month this summer, concerned donors across the nation raised $100 million for the ALS Association, making it clear that people want to give to this cause,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “This legislation establishes a means for New Jersey taxpayers to continue giving to the ALS Association as it works to support residents dealing with this devastating disease.”
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord and is estimated to impact some 30,000 Americans at any given time, with an estimated 5,600 individuals newly diagnosed with the disease each year.
The bill was released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Attention Caregivers in Camden & Gloucester Counties
The Camden County Division of Senior and Disabled Services will host its annual Caregivers’ Conference on Wednesday, October 29th at the Camden County Boathouse in Cooper River Park. The evening begins at 5:30PM with a light dinner, followed by a panel discussion with experts in caregiving, social services, living wills, finances and other issues, with time for questions and one-on-one assistance.
Space is limited, so please call the Camden County Division of Senior and Disabled Services at (856) 858-3220 to register. (Free of charge)
The Annual Gloucester County Caregiver Appreciation Luncheon will be held Wednesday, October 29th at 11:00 AM at Auletto Caterers at 1849 Cooper Street in Deptford. This luncheon is held in recognition of those who spend their time taking care of others. If you or someone you know is a caregiver, please plan on attending this lunch buffet in honor of you, the caregiver.
Please call the Gloucester County Division of Senior Services at (856) 384- 6990.
Advance registration by October 24th is required for this affair. (Free of charge)
By Michelle Caffrey | South Jersey Times
You may not know about it, but it’s there.
If you’ve bought a new car recently, it’s likely equipped with an event data recorders — a kind of “black box” for your car — that records just about everything about your vehicle use, including how fast you drive, where you go, and even how many people are with you.
It’s highly personal information that you wouldn’t want in the wrong hands, said Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-4 of Washington Township), who recently proposed legislation to regulate who can access that data and how.
“I think we should get ahead of the technology, instead of letting the technology get ahead of us,” said Moriarty, who chairs the Assembly’s Consumer Affairs Committee. The committee unanimously approved the bill (A3579) on Oct. 2, and the Senate version currently sits in the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
“Everything is contained in these black boxes, and I think we should have a law, before this gets abused, to say who owns that information and who has access to it,” said Moriarty.
The bill would ensure that the data recorded by the boxes, also known as electronic control modules, would remain the property of the vehicle’s owner, and that no one could retrieve or distribute that information without going through the court system.
Specifically, it outlines that the recorded data, just like a personal computer’s data, can be retrieved by law enforcement through a search warrant or subpoena, or by a representative of the owner. The bill also allows the data to be used to improve motor vehicle safety — the original intent of the modules when they were first introduced by manufacturers — or retrieved by a licensed motor vehicle dealer, repair or servicing facility.
The data can also be accessed and used by a subscription service provider, such as OnStar, if the provider’s agreement outlines the possible usage and storage of the data. The bill doesn’t cover personal recording devices, but does say data on those devices can be accessed to determine the “need for facilitating an emergency medical response” after a crash.
It also protects the data, which can be crucial in determining the cause of a serious motor vehicle crash, from being deleted or altered for two years following a crash, with a violation resulting in a fine of $5,000.
“I think this bill takes into account all of those different types of considerations and puts some parameters under who has access and under which circumstances,” said Moriarty.
It’s no surprise the state’s American Civil Liberties Union backs the bill.
Ari Rosmarin, the NJ ACLU’s public policy director, said they supported the bill in committee and see it as another step forward in protecting privacy rights for the state’s residents.
“Our interest in the bill is really the same interest that we have in protecting the privacy rights of New Jerseyans in a whole array of areas. Just like we believe that law enforcement should need a warrant to get information from a computer or a mobile phone, so too should there be privacy protections for computers you own in your own car,” said Rosmarin.
Their central concern remains uses of the data when it comes to law enforcement, but Rosmarin said it’s clear that kind of information about where people travel and how they get there can carry a high price tag to marketers.
“I think that we’re finding all over the place that data about our movements and activities is extremely valuable to a whole host of both government and private entities,” said Rosmarin, adding regulating this data now, as technology advances quickly, is essential to protecting consumers’ privacy.
“We don’t want to end up in a place where anything we buy that has a chip in it, the information from that chip belongs to someone other than ourselves,” he said. “When we buy a car we are not consenting to an external third party collecting information on us on a daily basis. As technology that collects more and more information about our daily habits and movements proliferates, our privacy laws must keep pace with that and not fall behind.”