Walker Police will be the first law enforcement agency in Livingston Parish to don wearable cameras, the department announced Wednesday.

The department has purchased 18 cameras that record both audio and video. Capt. John Sharp hopes all his road officers will be outfitted with the gear by next week after his department has a chance to train on the new devices.

The city also purchased a new computer server to store the data for at least three years, Mayor Rick Ramsey said in a news release.

The cameras and server cost approximately $12,600, the captain said. Much of the funding was donated by local businesses. Sharp said companies are still donating, and he isn’t sure how much of the total cost will be covered by donations, but he expects they will fund most of the cost of the program.

City leaders emphasize the cameras will be beneficial for the public and officers alike.

“Over the last several years, there have been an increasing number of shootings and other incidents of violence around the country. Frequently, there are conflicting stories between police, offenders and witnesses concerning these incidents, and evidence of what happened is often inconclusive,” Sharp said in a statement.

Incidentally, the announcement came the same day the State Police opened an investigation into a nonfatal shooting involving a Livingston Parish deputy in which law enforcement and family witnesses gave differing accounts of what happened.

Ramsey said the cameras are also useful to protect police themselves.

“From the standpoint of the city, we have seen a great many instances in which police action results in lawsuits against both the officers involved and the municipality,” he said.

“Even when the police are exonerated, the cost of defending a suit by someone who claims that the police exceeded their authority is staggering. Given the incidents of violence we have seen around the country and the results of it, we feel that implementing a body camera program to protect our officers and the public is the prudent thing to do.”

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