Edison is moving ahead with its efforts both to expand the police force and procure body cameras for its officers.
Councilwoman Sapana Shah asked Police Chief Thomas Bryan for an update on the two issues at the Dec. 21 meeting.
Bryan said the township was about to bring on 14 additional officers, swelling the Edison police ranks to 185.
Shah asked if with the additional officers the department would be at an ideal staffing situation. She said her goal is to “make sure that every house is protected and there are ample resources.”
Bryan said he was happy to have the additional officers, but added that any chief is going to try to build as big a department as possible. He said his ideal is 200, but 185 is a solid number.
“I’m very happy to have 185,” Bryan said. “I can deploy my resources more effectively and efficiently.”
Shah also asked Bryan about the body cameras.
“We have a vendor that has given us six, so they are actually deployed out on the road now,” the chief said. The officers, whom the township has identified as Sgt. Michael Cimmino and Officers David Stern, Greg Makras, Eric Van Schaack, Joseph Kenney Jr. and Joseph DePasquale, have gone through the training and are now in the process of testing the cameras.
Shah asked if there was also a software needed to accompany the cameras. Bryan confirmed but said it was an unresolved issue as of yet. The software solution chosen for storing the videos taken with the body cameras will depend on which body camera vendor the township ends up choosing; the department plans to test cameras from a variety of vendors.
“These are other things that we have to work out,” Bryan said. “But right now we have our pilot program up and running.”
The township also announced after the meeting that Edison would be receiving help from the state to purchase the body cameras in the form of a $62,500 grant from the attorney general’s office. That would not provide one to each officer in the department (it would get the department about 125 cameras), but according to the township, not every officer works in a capacity that would benefit from a body camera. For instance, those working in administrative roles likely would not need one. “Edison is grateful to receive this highly competitive state grant — which comes from criminal forfeiture funds, not tax dollars — and will significantly help us furnish most of our officers with body cameras,” Mayor Thomas Lankey said in a statement.
“My command staff and I firmly believe that body-camera technology will promote transparency and accountability in our department; ensure better evidence-gathering, and enhance public confidence in our many dedicated officers,” Bryan said in the same statement.
According to the township. Edison’s allotment under the body camera grant was the state’s third highest, behind Elizabeth and Jersey City. Four other Middlesex County towns were awarded funds as well: Carteret received $20,000; Plainsboro, $18,000; South River; $11,000; and Highland Park, $7,500.