Federal grant will sync up BRPD body cams to Bluetooth technology
BATON ROUGE - New technology is on the way to help improve Baton Rouge Police body cameras. It's part of a federal grant the city was at risk of losing since it purchased the body cameras before the money came in.
"They have what's called signal technology," Chief Murphy Paul said. "When a police officer's gun exits the holster it sends a signal to the body camera that automatically turns it on."
In the first quarter of the year, BRPD will outfit the officers with the technology. It will take a lot of the guesswork out of operating the cameras during sticky situations. The cameras must be in "standby" mode to come on automatically, and Chief Paul said that will be part of an officer's in-service training when the technology arrives.
The grant was $750,000, and Baton Rouge almost lost it after it bought body cameras before the money arrived. Police Chief Murphy Paul said getting them quickly and getting all officers outfitted was a priority.
"Those body cameras, we catch police officers doing the right thing every single day," Paul said.
In one recent case, former Officer Yussef Hamadeh's body camera did not come on in August. He was involved in a shooting with a man who maintained his innocence. That man was eventually cleared, and officer Hamadeh was fired after the story he told did not add up.
"With this new technology, anytime your weapon comes out of the holster, or if the taser comes out, it sends a signal to the body camera and it comes on," Paul said.
As 2018 comes to a close, Chief Paul is optimistic. He said many positive things are happening, including the homicide clearance rate that stands at 60 percent, higher than in years past.
Now, with the new technology coming to assist officers, there's a good feeling about 2019.
"We're going to continue to break down those barriers and ask the community to continue doing their part," Paul said. "...And giving us info and helping us do our job. We can't do it alone and can't do it without the community."
The Bluetooth technology costs approximately $600 per officer to outfit.