Patrol deputies with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office began wearing body cameras on Thursday.
All deputies will be required to wear the cameras while on duty and will manually activate the devices when engaging in most situations.
“It protects the public, and it also ensures the deputies are protected,” said Capt. John Babin, Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
The agency purchased the 50 Taser Axon Flex body-worn cameras in June for $66,643, which includes a year of cloud storage.
The cameras record 30 frames per second and have a 12-hour battery life, along with the capability of recording 12 hours of standard-definition footage made to mimic the point-of-view of a human eye. The devices also feature a buffer that records for 30 seconds prior to the camera’s activation.
The Sheriff’s Office piggybacked on the New Orleans Police Department’s bid for its own body-worn cameras, said Maj. Art LeBreton, chief deputy.
Deputies tested the cameras while administrators ironed out a policy for their use, retention and storage by reviewing policies from other departments and getting approval from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc., which accredits the Sheriff’s Office, LeBreton said.
Under the Sheriff’s Office policy, deputies will have discretion in recording certain events, including statements or interviews of victims of sexual assault or child victims or a victim or witness who declines to give a statement on camera.
Cameras also will not be activated “in a place where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists, such as dressing rooms, locker rooms and restrooms,” the policy states.
Deputies will have to say out loud why they’re stopping the recording before they do so.
All the video is stored through a cloud-based service, evidence.com, which is operated by Taser. Deputies will upload the footage after each shift.
All videos involving public contact but without any “immediate evidentiary value” will be stored for 90 days, along with uncategorized footage and traffic stops without a citation.
Traffic stops with a citation will be stored for one year, officer injury incidents and misdemeanor arrests for two years, use-of-force incidents for three years and felony arrests for six years.
Public access to the videos will be in keeping with public records law.
LeBreton said he expects the agency will acquire more cameras over time as there aren’t yet enough devices for patrol supervisors to use the equipment.
The 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office also will have access to the footage, LeBreton said.
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