Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $285,583)
The Mercer County New Jersey Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) submits this application for Bureau of Justice Assistance funding under Category 4 of the FY 2022 Body-worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program. If awarded, the MCPO will purchase (16) body-worn cameras for investigators and create a BWC Wins Program (BWC-WP) demonstration project, requiring purchase of three SMART boards for training purposes, and hiring a project director.
The MCPO is the primary law enforcement agency in Mercer County and operates under the direction of the Prosecutor and the Chief of County Detectives. MCPO is responsible for prosecution of all crimes that occur within Mercer County and operates numerous investigative units and task forces. To promote information sharing and equitable distribution of resources, MCPO investigators are assigned to various local, state, and federal entities. Members of the MCPO are often assigned to supplement the Trenton Police Department.
The purpose of this project is to equip the remaining MCPO investigators with BWCs who were not included in the initial roll out of its BWC program, and to create and implement a new demonstration project dubbed the BWC Wins Program (BWC-WP). The MCPO recognizes that footage from BWCs is crucial to prosecutorial success and to restoring the public’s trust in law enforcement and justice. The BWC-WP requires an experienced officer as Program Manager to review BWC footage, collect examples of positive law enforcement interactions with citizens and utilize this footage in training material to highlight how these actions can affect the outcomes of cases that go to trial or are released to the public. With training rooms located in offices across the county, the project director will deliver monthly demonstrations of these videos to MCPO’s investigators and stakeholders including the Mercer County Police Chiefs Association and Trenton Police Department.
Outcomes and deliverables of the BWC-WP include a pro-active review process of BWC footage culminating in a monthly county-wide training program showing BWC videos which reflect positive law enforcement actions, effective critical conflict incident mitigation, or instances where officers demonstrate restraint, professionalism or provide exceptional community service. Videos will be disseminated to the public via social media with the goal of restoring public trust in law enforcement. The MCPO will use BWC-WP outcomes to review internal BWC policy, implement changes, and promote best practices in its BWC program. The MCPO is confident the BWC-WP can be replicated by any agency to achieve similar outcomes.