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.