THIBODAUX, LA (WAFB) - After months of research and trials all Thibodaux Police officers are now outfitted with body cameras while on duty.
Chief Scott Silverii bought 16 of the small clip-on cameras at a cost of around $1,000 each. The money came from a technology grant from the Lorio Foundation. Each camera is assigned to two officers who work opposite shifts.
"Our big goal was to maintain our commitment to being transparent and accountable and increasing operational efficiency," Silverii said. To his knowledge, he said Thibodaux is the only department in Louisiana to outfit all on-duty officers with the new technology.
Officers control when the camera turns on and off, but video is required to roll during traffic stops and other official investigations. Each camera can hold 25 gigabytes of data. Clips of recorded incidents are attached to corresponding case files for review by detectives and eventually prosecutors.
Silverii said the cameras help protect both the public and his officers.
"From the public side we've had several folks say 'Are you videotaping me?' 'Well yes I am.' 'Can you do it?' 'You're in the public domain so yes we can,' and it all of a sudden settles the whole situation," he said. "When it gets to a liability situation, it's always recording. It's your words, it's your audio, it's your video, it's your image. There's no misunderstanding."
Some officers were initially hesitant at the idea of constant surveillance, but Silverii said they've since come around.
"It's very very useful, especially when you need to go back on long complaints. If I need to go back I can go into my shift commanders office and we can review it, and it makes typing a report a lot easier," Officer Jeremy Gaudet said.
"It absolutely has increased our operational efficiency as far as taking those statements, and that way we ensure they're accurate statements. They can't be any more accurate than within your own words," Silverii said.