Footage from cameras positioned on windshields of law enforcement vehicles is becoming a familiar sight on television shows and news reports, and now the Bogalusa Police Department has the equipment to get in on the action.
More importantly, the BPD has a new tool that will help it locate and bring in criminals while also providing documentation that could back up officers’ accounts of their actions.
Thanks to an approximately $95,000 federal grant, 10 BPD units have been fitted with two cameras apiece.
Chief Joe Culpepper said that although the department has had cameras on two occasions in the past, the technology has improved since the days when officers had to change out VHS tapes in the trunks of their units, and that none of those old cameras have been in use for a while.
“I have always been a proponent of these things,” he said. “They help a lot on crime scenes. And the video system cuts down on complaints against officers.
“Whenever we have used them for an internal affairs investigation, they always exonerate the officer.”
Now BPD patrolmen and street crimes officers each have a camera on the front of their vehicles facing forward and another on the dividing cage facing the back seat where those who are arrested ride.
PFC Jeff Bergeron said he’d never conducted police work with cameras before, but he believes they are “a good tool to have.”
The cameras have powerful zoom lenses that enable long-distance viewing, microphones that officers can wear in order to record what happens outside the vehicle and infrared capabilities for nighttime use, he said.
The cameras go on automatically when an officer activates his or her flashing lights or when the vehicle’s speed reaches 65 miles per hour, or they can be turned on manually, Bergeron said.
“The videos automatically upload to our network when we pull into the parking lot,” he said. “This system is all digital wireless as far as storage and upload of video.”