At his end-of-the-year press conference, Governor John Bel Edwards reflected on the challenge 2016 was for Louisiana.
“The toughest day for me was the Sunday when I woke up and was getting ready for church and found out that we had a gunman in Baton Rouge that was obviously targeting police officers,” reflected Edwards.
That was preceded by the shooting death of Alton Sterling by police officers in July and subsequent protests.
Speaking at a separate press conference Wednesday, Louisiana State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson said that “whether you were for or against those protests, one thing they did was open up the communication line between our police and first responders and our public. We started having those conversations about what was important to them and what was important to us.”
Superintendent Edmonson, along with Governor Edwards, announced that beginning in January, Louisiana State Police will be wearing body cameras. The first will be worn by troopers working in the French Quarter, with the hope that by the summer, all state troopers will be wearing one.
“This full statewide deployment across the state of Louisiana, it will be the first of its kind among statewide public safety agencies in the country," explained Edwards.
The Governor says twenty state troopers were part of a pilot program for body cameras earlier this year, and "after successful results, we are proud to announce today that Louisiana State Police is taking steps to purchase fifteen hundred Axon Body 2 cameras using funds identified in the state police’s existing budget.”
The cameras will cost $5.3 million over five years.
The death of Sterling continues to be investigated by the US Justice Department. But no decision has been handed down yet. Edwards said he is not aware of when that announcement will be made. However, he explains, “I believe that we’ve taken a lot of steps to make sure that whenever that announcement comes, we’re going to be able to keep the lid on the situation.”