Policies and procedures for body-worn cameras (BWCs) and mobile video recorders (MVRs, aka “dash cams”) are now in effect for the Bedminster Township Police Department.
The formal establishment of the policies and procedures was done through adoption of a unanimously approved resolution at the March 11 public board of supervisors meeting. During discussion, officials noted the action as reflecting “operating in an age of liability”; “protecting against false claims”; and that “officers are accountable for their interactions with the public.”
The policy notes that BWCs and MVRs may “capture information that can be used to prosecute criminal activity; preserve honesty, integrity, and professionalism; evaluate training and performance; and ensure accountability.” The technology includes the use of facial recognition software/programs that utilize biometric identification by electronically scanning a person’s face and comparing it to a library of known faces. Enhancing officer safety is the first in a list of seven objectives in deploying the equipment.
The policy further notes that the tools “shall be used only in conjunction with official law enforcement duties,” not to record “communications with other police personnel without the permission of the Chief,” not to record “encounters with undercover officers or confidential informants,” and not be used when officers are “on break, otherwise engaged in personal activities, or at any location where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
It also notes that “there is data suggesting that individuals may behave more civilly if they know their words and actions are being recorded.” The use of facial recognition or software requires completion of training in the proper use of the technology.
Also at the March 11 meeting, supervisors resolved to add an additional 145.5 acres to the township’s Agricultural Security District. The addition includes the 42-acre Buehner property on Dublin Pike; the 11.5-acre Chukar property on Kellers Church Road; and the 69- and 23-acre Nicholas properties on Dublin Pike and Schott Road.
Agricultural security designations are designed to help protect farmers against nuisance complaints and eminent domain seizures, while often serving as a step toward permanent preservation. With over 7,000 acres preserved, Bedminster is understood to be the county leader in land peservation. The township started its Agricultural Security District in 1986, and it is understood to be first or second in the county, with Solebury Township, in total acreage.