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Essex County (NJ) Sheriff Application to US DOJ Body-Worn Cameras program

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $400,000)

With funding from the BJA BWC Policy and Implementation Program to Support Law Enforcement
Agencies Program, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) will purchase 200 BWCs to support
safety efforts as an expansion of existing BWC efforts. Essex County is the third most populous
county in the State of New Jersey, preceded by Bergen County and Middlesex County. However, its
municipalities continuously suffer a disproportionately high rate of violent and nonviolent crime in
comparison. The crime rate per 1,000 inhabitants in Essex County amounts to 36.95, whereas Bergen
rests at 22.63 and Middlesex amounts to 1.03. Similarly, although only 9 percent of the state’s
population lives in Essex County, 11.4 percent of all crime and 14.7 percent of all violent crime that
occurs in the State of New Jersey takes place within its municipalities. The headquarters of the ECSO,
as well as the seat of Essex County, is located in the City of Newark. Newark is the most populous
municipality in New Jersey and is home to an estimated 311,549 residents, accounting for more than
36 percent of Essex County’s total population. Newark is categorized by the State Attorney General’s
office as a “Major Urban” area, and thus it included in the “Urban Fifteen” along with the neighboring
municipalities of East Orange and Irvington.
As a present and active law enforcement agency working to minimize crime throughout Essex County,
the ECSO proposes to incorporate a robust BWC policy and program implementation solely among its
force. The ECSO is the only law enforcement agency responsible for the county-specific,
municipality-neutral protection and security of all Essex County residents. The ECSO understands and
appreciates the deep challenges of building and maintaining trust in diverse, moderate- to low-income
areas where citizens often feel disconnected from their law enforcement officials. The need to
document evidence from both an officer’s and a citizen’s point of view, train officers in properly and
responsibly utilizing recording equipment, and resolve citizen complaints from an informed
perspective to demonstrate police transparency and accountability is arguably higher than ever before.
The purpose of BWCs is, and will continue to be under the policy and practice of the ECSO, a
documentation of actions to ensure accountability of each party’s role in a police-to-citizen conflict so
that prosecutors and citizens alike may analyze and judge any negative interactions from a more
accurate, balanced, and informed platform.

Date Created: September 25, 2023