BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana will become the first state in a nation to supply all state troopers with body cameras.
Gov. John Bel Edwards and the head of Louisiana State Police, Col. Mike Edmonson, announced the plan during a news conference Wednesday at the governor's mansion.
Edmonson said the roll out of cameras worn by troopers will begin in January in the French Quarter and expand from there with the rest of troopers across the state getting cameras by summer 2017.
LSP said it intends to purchase 1,550 Axon Body 2 cameras with a five-year unlimited system license for patrol troopers. 700 troopers would get two cameras each, one as back-up. That leaves 150 body cameras that would be on hand for special assignments.
"Nothing is more important than the safety of the public we serve and the troopers committed to that service," said Edmonson. "We must ensure that we maintain transparency and accountability through proper training, sound procedures and the latest technology. For nearly 20 years our troopers have used in-car cameras to document interactions with members of the public, but I am pleased to announce that we will now be taking that capability a step further."
The technology on the cameras would trigger them to start recording on their own as soon as a trooper pulls out a taser. Plus, if a trooper pulls out a taser, the Bluetooth technology would automatically trigger any nearby Axon Body 2 cameras to start recording.
"So if New Orleans Police, which has an Axon camera on them, it will also turn that camera on also so we'll be catching all that information based on what people are seeing in an area there," said Edmonson.
State Police starting looking into getting body cameras in January 2017. Then in February, 22 troopers from all around the state tested out the Axon Body 2 cameras till September.
"The public expects the police to be perfect and you know what? 99.9% of the time, we get it right, but a police officer can't hit a pause button during a situation where they have deployed their weapon or they're about to make a big arrest," said Edmonson. Which is why Edmonson said body cameras are needed.
He added the body cameras will cost $5.3 million over five years with the money coming from the existing budget.