South Jersey Lawmaker: Christie Rejection Of Police Dashboard Cameras 'Upsetting'

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester/Camden, was cleared of drunk driving charges thanks to a dashboard camera inside the arresting police officer's vehicle.

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (Patch File Photo)
Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (Patch File Photo)
By Anthony Bellano

Inspired by his own personal experience, a South Jersey assemblyman expressed shock Wednesday that Gov. Chris Christie failed to act on legislation that would have required all municipal police vehicles to be equipped with video cameras. 

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester/Camden, who avoided false drunk driving charges based on evidence supplied by a police vehicle camera, co-sponsored bill A-4193 during the 2012-13 legislative session that would require all new municipal police vehicles be equipped with such cameras.

The bill passed the Assembly with a 54-17 vote on Jan. 13. Sister bill S-2860 passed the State Senate with a 27-0 vote on Jan. 9. Those bills expired without gubernatorial action on Tuesday.

“I’m deeply disappointed that Gov. Christie failed to act on my bill to require municipal police vehicles be equipped with video recording systems,” Moriarty said in a statement issued on Wednesday. “It’s even more upsetting that the governor chose not to explain his reasoning behind not signing this bill designed to protect New Jerseyans and police officers alike.

“This bill is not something I just dreamed up off the top of my head. This bill, as many know, was based on my real life experience of being falsely charged with drunken driving, a situation that could have ruined my professional and political career if not for the recording device that rightly showed I was innocent. That device protected me that day. It showed the truth, and led to charges being filed against the police officer. Cameras don’t lie."

Attempts to reach the Governor's Office for comment were not immediately successful.

Moriarty was arrested in Washington Township on July 31, 2012 and charged with drunk driving. Documents later released by the municipality showed a phone call from the cousin of a Washington Township police detective indicating Moriarty may have been drunk at a local car dealership led to Moriarty’s arrest. The dealership was owned by Ernest Calvello, the cousin of Washington Township Det. Martin Calvello.

Officer Joseph DiBuonaventura then pulled over the vehicle Moriarty was driving, claiming Moriarty cut him off. DiBuonaventura was aware of the incident at the report from the local dealership.

Video taken by the dashboard camera in DiBuonaventura’s car later cleared Moriarty of the charges, and the investigation turned to DiBuonaventura.

“I know I was fortunate to have that camera there, and that many innocent New Jerseyans – and I must emphasize police officers, too – have not had the luxury of a video recording to clear their name of false charges,” Moriarty said on Wednesday. “This bill was designed to change that and ensure the truth wins out in all disputes.”

Moriarty added the cameras would have been paid for using fees collected from drunken drivers. He also said he planned to reintroduce the bill.

Eric Thomas January 23, 2014 at 09:01 AM
It is my firm belief that 99.99% of our cops are courageous professionals who put their lives at risk for all of us However, there are always renegades - in any profession. Specifically, cops who go out of bounds because of poor judgment, bias or just a bad day on the job. None of those reasons justify misconduct. Cameras are impartial. They only record what they see. They don't hate and they have no political ties. In fact, video and audio recordings can vindicate an officer falsely accused of misconduct as soon as it can help identify and root out bad apples who wear a shield. I support Chris Christie. But in this case he is DEAD WRONG.
Eric Thomas January 23, 2014 at 09:06 AM
And for those who are concerned about who will foot the cost for cameras in police vehicles, perhaps you should research the cost of a municipality defending litigation wherein police misconduct is the complaint. Look at what jurys have been known to award Plaintiffs who prove they were mistreated or assaulted by a cop who violated their oath. Compare the numbers. And then close your eyes and imagine you, yourself, going through what Assemblyman Moriarty did. You are pulled over by a cop who has a gun on his belt when there is no basis in fact to support either the traffic stop or the arrest.
Susan January 23, 2014 at 03:09 PM
Wow what excellent insightful dialog. That was sincere, not sarcasm. Perhaps Christy has a few rotten apples he wants help with his misdeeds and if cameras were in place then he wouldn't have their help. Perhaps he wants to fire the good cops and keep the dirty cops. Just saying that could be the reason. After all, it looks like everyone agrees, its a no brainer.
Fawkes January 23, 2014 at 10:12 PM
The people who are against this because of the so-called "expense" are full of crap. Installing these cameras to keep abusive police officers at bay would save the taxpayers far more money in the long run than the cameras would cost.
Therightchange January 24, 2014 at 06:54 AM
The state and municipalities would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars a year if those cameras were installed. Each time you get pulled over you get a costly ticket, then you have to go to court to fight said ticket, pay more fees. If you lose you pay more fees, lichens gets suspended more fees, renew your license when your "punishment" is done more fees. Ya see the domino effect this would have. Now why would they want to prove anyone innocent when they can collect money so easily for falsely pulling someone over?!


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