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Jefferson Parish Sheriff announces body cameras coming

October 15, 2021 GMT

GRETNA, La. (AP) — A suburban New Orleans sheriff’s department that has been criticized for years for failing to equip deputies with body cameras is now adopting the technology.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has been Louisiana’s largest law enforcement organization without body cams. Sheriff Joseph Lopinto and his predecessor, Newell Normand, cited budget and data storage concerns as reasons for not having the cameras. But Thursday night Lopinto revealed that he had signed a deal in June to buy 500 devices.

The announcement came during a Zoom call with the Jefferson Democratic Executive Committee. The cameras will arrive in about two weeks, and officers will start to wear them in December, the sheriff said.

“Body cameras are now on the way,” he said.

The sheriff said that in addition to body-worn cameras, deputies will have cameras in the back of their vehicles and mounted on dashboards; the dashboard cameras will have automatic license plate readers, he said.

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Critics have questioned why the department had not implemented them already, saying they promote transparency. Lopinto said he was never against having body-worn cameras but it was a question of cost. The sheriff said that when he started the job three years ago the office had a $3 million budget deficit.