Legislative task force looking into new technology for police pursuits
BATON ROUGE - In the wake of a tragic accident that claimed the lives of two Brusly teens during a high-speed chase in January, a legislative task force is turning its attention to technology that could revolutionize safety during police pursuits.
The technology, known as "Digital Siren," has already been adopted by law enforcement officials in Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia. Chairman of the task force, Senator Caleb Kleinpeter, says Louisiana could potentially follow suit.
Senator Kleinpeter, motivated by the devastating incident in Brusly, formed a task force to study past events and seek ways to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
"The best thing to do would be to create this task force and to study what all has happened over the years and see if we can improve on the situation and see if we can help with preventing this in the future," Kleinpeter said.
At the State Capitol on Friday, the task force had a firsthand look at Digital Siren, a technology designed to alert drivers in the vicinity of a police pursuit within two to four seconds. The software, plugged into law enforcement computers, allows officers to send instant notifications to nearby vehicles or phones with the touch of a button.
Once an alert is sent out by an officer, a clear message is on drivers' screens accompanied by an audible warning, ensuring their attention remains on the road.
Despite widespread support from the task force, the main obstacle lies in funding. Senator Kleinpeter expressed his intention to seek federal funds to address this issue.
"I plan on presenting this to them and seeing if we can get some federal funds to help the funding issue that we've been having."
Digital Siren comes with a cost of $239 per vehicle for installation and a monthly subscription fee of $19.95 for maintenance. Currently, 50 agencies across three states, including the Okanee County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina, have successfully implemented Digital Siren for the past five years.
"We do feel we are keeping our citizens safer and keeping them alert when we unfortunately have to pursue someone," said Okanee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw.
The potential impact of Digital Siren was underscored by a recent incident in October, where Caleb Chapetta, a deaf man, lost his life during a police pursuit. The technology could have played a crucial role in preventing such tragedies.
Senator Kleinpeter remains resolute in his commitment to the cause.
"If there's a way to save even one innocent life, it's a worthy price to pay," Kleinpeter said.
In addition to exploring Digital Siren, Senator Kleinpeter plans to present a bill aimed at increasing penalties and fines for aggravated flight. He also hopes to advocate for more legislation mandating longer training periods for law enforcement under the incoming administration of Governor-elect Jeff Landry.
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