As police and community relations in Charlotte, North Carolina, are rocked by a questioned shooting, a Louisiana task force began work on recommendations governing law enforcement body cameras. They started out questioning dependability.
“If they’re falling off, then that’s an issue off the bat,” Baton Rouge Rep. Denise Marcelle said. She was referring to the Baton Rouge Police statement following the July 5th shooting of Alton Sterling.
“During the altercation, the body cameras did come dislodged,” BRPD spokesman Tommy Dunnam said then.
“There are cameras out there that do not fall off,” Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine, a task force member maintains.
But Louisiana State Police have been testing a variety of body cameras, and Trooper Kennedy told the workgroup: “It’s not 100-percent foolproof that these cameras are going to be on the body of an officer in a physical altercation.”
Also discussed were automatic triggers to start recordings, as well as the length of time and location of archived video – in the cloud, or on a secure server. Baton Rouge Sgt. Matt Johnson says hacking is a very real concern.
“When we had our issues over the summer, there were attempts to get into our system,” he said, adding that they store their video on a secure server, in a locked location.
Mayor Vidrine asked New Orleans Police Deputy Superintendent John Thomas how officers feel about the cameras.
“Naturally, when you get new technology, they thought it was going to be a ‘gotcha’ moment,” Thomas said, “But as it goes along, the officers actually want the cameras on because now it takes all the ambiguity out. You know, because it saves careers.”
“Any negativity at all?” Vidrine pressed
“The only negativity—we don’t have enough. Everybody wants ‘em.”
They could be getting them. Jonathan Walker with the Louisiana Division of Administration told the task force: “The state is currently setting up a statewide contract for the purchase of body cameras.”