BRPD using video from body cameras in investigations
BATON ROUGE - Tuesday night leaders and residents discussed the desire to expand a pilot program for BPRD officer body cameras to the entire force.
Most at the meeting at the MLK Community Center on Gus Young Avenue were in support of the program. It came in handy in February when two officers were shot on Fairfield Avenue. Footage from both cruiser dash cams and one of the officer's body cameras is being used as part of the investigation.
BRPD is halfway through the program. About 70 officers currently wear the cameras, but Chief Carl Dabadie hopes to have the entire force, around 400 in all, outfitted eventually.
"They really come in handy," he told News 2's Brittany Weiss. "We haven't gotten any negatives at this point."
The department is currently on its second brand of cameras. When the officer makes contact with someone, he double clicks the front button and it begins recording. It also pre-records 30 seconds.
About 3,500 videos have been recorded each month since the pilot program began. The department also knows when the cameras are turned off.
"I've had four instances of officers being disciplined for not turning on their cameras," Chief Dabadie says.
Constance Randolph says she supports the use of body cameras, but she has some questions.
"Honestly, is it still in human hands?" she questions. "Blind trust I don't have in the department. Period."
Other questions include public record. Louisiana law says once a case is closed, the files are public. Other states have passed laws to block public access to body camera video. A Louisiana task force has been assembled to consider the impact of the videos.
The pilot program ends in July. The following month, BRPD and those assisting in the process with conduct interview and present the findings.
The department still has one more camera brand to test out.