The Lafayette Police Department is moving forward with two new camera systems set to keep watch on the streets and on police encounters with the public, although the equipment is still at least a month away from implementation.
A neighborhood crime-camera system targeting 52 locations should be in place by the end of the year, Assistant Police Chief Capt. Vaughn Burris said on Friday.
“The sooner we can get it done, the better,” he said.
Homeland Security Systems, a vendor contracted by the state, will furnish the $700,000 street surveillance system that includes a $50,000 mobile trailer with cameras “and other technology” to be used where the cameras are not installed, Police Chief Jim Craft said on Friday.
Annual costs to maintain the system are estimated at $175,000, including the LUS Fiber connection to be used to live-stream the feed, Craft said. The footage will be stored for seven days unless it’s downloaded as evidence, and its availability will fall under existing public records laws — that is, anything being used as evidence in an ongoing investigation will be withheld from the public.
Those wondering where the cameras will be will need to keep an eye to the sky, as the department is not disclosing their locations. Craft has said the cameras will be focused mainly in areas of north Lafayette considered high-risk based on City-Parish Council input and crime statistics.
Another $270,000 budgeted for the coming fiscal year that begins Nov. 1 will fund body cameras for all officers, a server to store the video and maintenance and operations cost for a year.
Craft said he’s aiming to purchase body cameras made by Panasonic, which is coming out with a new system compatible with the department’s in-car cameras. However, if the company delays its release of the product much longer beyond November, another vendor may be chosen, he said.
Several factors will need to be ironed out before the body cameras are in use, including usage, storage and public records policies, which are now under review by the department’s legal team, Craft said at a September council liaison meeting.
According to the chief’s knowledge of the working policy, officers will be able to turn the cameras on and off. But further information on that policy is still unavailable while it awaits final approval.
Another policy in the air is how that high-definition footage will be stored, although Craft has said that policy will be close to the department’s in-car camera system policy.
It requires footage to be stored for 30,000 days — or a little more than 82 years — for homicides and rapes. OWI and narcotics arrests made during a traffic stop have to be stored for 10 years.
Lafayette Consolidated Government already reserves about 12 terabytes of space for the department to store compressed files, with more than half of that already used up.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.