BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Body cameras are now being worn by 35 percent of Baton Rouge Police officers.
Leaders with the Body Camera Study Committee presented the news Wednesday afternoon at City Hall. Chief Carl Dabadie said the 100 cameras came in Tuesday and were immediately distributed to officers serving parts of Mid-City and North Baton Rouge.
"It's been a long road," said Chief Dabadie. "I realize it's taken a lot of time. But I do think that when you take your time implementing something, you implement a great project. When you rush things, you tend to overlook things and you miss things."
In terms of missing something, East Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle has an issue with what the cameras cannot do. Marcelle, who is also a committee member, wants body cameras that are capable of pre-recording, capturing the seconds even before the camera is turned on.
"That's very important to me. What happened prior to you pushing the button," said Marcelle. "I'd like to see us move in that direction."
However, BRPD said the cameras cannot do that. Instead, they said activity leading up to any public interaction is captured from the camera on the police car.
"While they're driving to work, we have that in-car camera that is rolling that does have the buffer where if they get in an accident or if they get into a situation, it's going to roll back 30 seconds," said Capt. Todd Weishar with BRPD.
Police themselves are also expressing some concerns. The camera captures a view of only 72 degrees, meaning just because it was not caught on camera, does not mean it didn't happen. Another issue is money.
"In the beginning, we have a lot of unanswered questions, the main one being price," said Chief Dabadie.
Previous reports said BRPD paid for the ten-month pilot program with a $300,000 federal gr ant. However, police said while they applied for that gr ant, they did not get it. So instead, they paid $105,000 for the cameras out of their own budget.
Police said they are now applying for new gr ants to help pay for bringing cameras to all of their officers.
"I was a little shocked that they weren't able to get the gr ant," said Marcelle. "l intend on personally looking for some money myself. I don't think it's rocket science. The wheel is already turning. We just need to get on board and do what's best for our city, overall."
The Body Camera Study Committee will next meet November 4.