Police to get body cameras

The Jefferson Township Council will have complete 2020 budget documents by March 4, Chief Financial Officer Bill Eagan reported at the Wednesday, February 5, meeting.

Eagan told council they could introduce the budget at the March 18 meeting and adopt it on April 15. These dates are ahead of the state’s deadline.

He didn’t talk numbers in most of his presentation, but he did say the township would spend $140,000 paying down the principle of its debt.

He mentioned some specifics like a $9,600 cost for codification of ordinances. This will include $3,000 from the 2019 budget. The cost is higher than usual because council has taken action on a number of ordinance, many of which revolved around upgrading fees.

The township will purchase a new salt shed and fix the roof on the existing shed. One is at the DPW yard on Weldon Road and the other is at the Health Center on Minnisink Road. Mayor Eric Wilsusen said he will speak to Roxbury Township officials to see if they will agree to share the cost of a salt elevator for filling the sheds. He explained the salt tends to damage conventional loading equipment so the elevator could pay for itself eventually. The machine is on a trailer and can be moved around easily.

Last year’s $780,000 budget line item for road repair left no surplus in that line item, Eagan said. The 2020 line will be about $30,000 higher, plus expenditures for micro-seal that will be used on some roads to save money on total repaving.

Wilsusen said Township Engineer Ed Haack told him that to do all the road work necessary, a budget of $1 million to $1.5 million would be necessary.

Councilman Bob Birmingham noted oil prices have gone down, which could save some money.

Cameras Coming

Police Chief Sean Conrad presented council with a request for funds for cameras.

Body-worn cameras and patrol-car cameras would cost $120,000 total, of which $70,500 was put aside in previous years. Body cameras will be purchased through a state contract and car cameras through a Bergen County cooperative.

Councilman Jay Dunham noted one thing that delayed a previous purchase of body cameras was the cost of downloading and archiving. Conrad said a company called Evidence.com now provides database storage so each department doesn’t have to purchase bulky and expensive servers.

Besides storing videos in the cloud, the service will expunge what isn’t required to be kept, Conrad said.

Police Chief Sean Conrad makes a budget presentation with Captain Paul Castimore and Lt. Robert Bush at the table. (Photo by Jane Primerano)

Conrad also explained the police department will enter into a five-year contract and if new technology comes out over that period the department will get a free upgrade.

He said Evidence.com will share information with the county prosecutor or with attorneys when necessary. The link they use is designed to expire after a particular period of time so no one can hack into it for access to data.

Captain Paul Castimore said each patrol officer will get a camera and nine cars will have cameras installed. In 2021, four more cars will get cameras. He said some of the existing patrol cars are too old to be retrofitted with the new camera technology.

Castimore said footage from the car and body cameras can be blended if needed for evidence. He also said each officer would wear a microphone.

Conrad said he thinks the cameras will show some great community service on the part of the officers and will save them from being wrongly accused of using force when it isn’t necessary.

Wilsusen said a few positions will be filled this year. He explained Haack is thinking about retirement and he would like to bring on an assistant, part-time engineer to work with him.

“We’ve got to have a succession plan,” he said.

The township will also hire a second part-time fire inspector, Wilsusen said.

He reminded council they need to decide who will represent the governing body in negotiations for a new garbage/recycling contract.

In other meeting news, Wilsusen swore in Nikolai Sokiran as the newest firefighter in Company #2.

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