The New Jersey Innovation Institute’s Defense Division makes it a priority to form relationships with local police departments, specifically within our Homeland Security and Public Safety branch. In 2019, we inaugurated the ‘Newark Project’, and collaborated with IBM to assist Newark PD in enhancing their body-worn camera (BWC) technology. Now, in an effort to expand these efforts, NJII Defense is joining the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office (BCPO) to enhance their BWC system, once again implementing AI to improve safety and effectiveness.
Governor Phil Murphy’s 2021 law requiring all NJ officers to wear BWCs resulted in a $58 Million investment of cameras to local police departments. Bergen County alone received $5.1 Million worth of equipment in the form of over 2,500 total cameras for 72 police departments. In March 2023, Bergen spent an additional $500,000 worth of BWCs for correctional officers despite no state requirement to do so. According to Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton, “the growing trend in law enforcement is transparency, and having these cameras protects allegations of assaults and/or improper conduct of an officer.”
Bergen County utilizes the Axon Body 3, which was released in 2019 and remains one of the flagship BWCs currently on the market. NJII’s Defense Division worked with Axon to review Bergen’s BWC policy, evaluate their current capabilities, procedures, technologies, and make recommendations based on research of future trends and potential avenues for artificial intelligence and machine vision integration. Earlier this year, Jeffrey McSweeney, a Senior Associate at NJII Defense, traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in the annual Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and advocate for the use of AI and machine vision in policing. NJII also submitted a $1 Million grant proposal to the National Institute of Justice aimed at Research and Evaluation on Policing Practices, Accountability Mechanisms, and Alternatives.
Bergen County has long been known as the blueprint law enforcement county for NJ, with a history of experimenting with new ideas for policing. They are consistently at the forefront of major public issues, including but not limited to child safety, domestic abuse, and veteran affairs. Thanks to NJII, NJIT, and Axon, body-worn cameras are being added to that list, and are becoming a key factor in safe and modern policing.