The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office is ironing out policy details of using body cameras as it prepares to join the growing ranks of law enforcement agencies using the technology.
The Sheriff’s Office bought 50 body cameras over the summer. Policies for using the cameras are in the draft phase, said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. John Babin, although there’s no set time frame for when they will be deployed.
A policy for retaining video captured by the cameras is also “being coordinated with input from prosecutors to comply with state law,” Babin said.
The TASER AXON body cameras were purchased 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.
Each camera may be manually activated or set to trigger automatically — for example, when a deputy turns on the car’s emergency lights. The devices also feature a buffer that records for 30 seconds prior to the camera’s activation.
The plan by the Sheriff’s Office to use body cameras will put Lafayette Parish’s two largest law enforcement agencies in line with a number of agencies statewide using the cameras.
The Lafayette Police Department budgeted $270,000 to buy body cameras for the entire force and to cover maintenance and operating costs for one year. The city Police Department is set to begin using body cameras by next year.
Police Chief Jim Craft said earlier this month the department is also finalizing its policies for using the cameras and storing the footage.
A number of other Acadiana-area law enforcement agencies have already implemented wearable camera systems, including the Scott, Opelousas and Crowley police departments and the Iberia and St. Landry Parishes sheriff’s offices.
The Baton Rouge Police Department, meanwhile, is testing the waters with its body camera implementation by issuing 100 body cameras in the city’s high-crime 1st District for a 10-month pilot program that began this month.
During the pilot period, the department will review any unknown costs and legalities before deciding on whether to outfit the roughly 300 other uniform patrol officers with the cameras.
The U.S. Department of Justice in September announced the New Orleans Police Department won a $237,000 grant to purchase 250 new body cameras for its officers, adding to about 620 it already had on hand for the agency’s more than 1,100 officers.
The grant, which requires a 50-50 cash match, is part of a $75 million program implemented by the Obama administration to help distribute 50,000 wearable cameras to law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.