CJ Griffin Quoted in NorthJersey.com Article on Fast-Tracked Bill That Would Allow Officers to Review Body-Cam Video Before Writing Incident Reports
CJ Griffin, Director of the Justice Gary S. Stein Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, was quoted in the NorthJersey.com article, “Many reluctant policing NJ are changing their minds about wearing body cameras. Here’s why.” The article discusses the mandate in New Jersey that every uniformed patrol officer wear a body camera device as of June 1 and a controversial bill state lawmakers sought to fast-track that would change current law and let officers review their bodycam footage before they write their incident reports in most cases. The article notes that police say that watching the video beforehand ensures they will write the most accurate report they can.
But transparency advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and C.J. Griffin, a Hackensack attorney who focuses on public records access, said it's not that simple.
"It's not about transparency, it's about preserving evidence," Griffin said. "Memories are fallible, but police are witnesses in a case. So what we need is the memory they have before they view the video. That memory needs to be recorded. Then they're allowed to review the video ... and update the report."
She also said letting cops see the video beforehand violates defendants' Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial, allows officers to align their stories with what the camera captured and gives officers a leg up in the legal proceedings because no other witnesses get to view the recording before making a statement.
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