Small camera is a big help for Thibodaux Police

Photo provided by staff.
Monday, May 5, 2014 - 8:23pm

When uniformed patrol officers like Sergeant Clint Dempster hit the street for the Thibodaux Police Department they wear a special accessory: a body cam.

“You just basically click it on, and it basically starts recording," Dempster said.

The body camera’s don’t roll all the time so it’s up to officers to turn them on when it’s time.

"Once you get into a traffic stop or you want to activate your camera on scene or what not there is a little on off but right here to the right side, Dempster said.

Thibodaux Police Chief Scott Silverii said, “Our number one job is documenters of fact, and it may not seem so exciting but that's the truth."

Silverii described with the camera officers have an extra eye capturing what happened.

"We don't have to rely on our memory to transcribe your spoken statement. We have your voice. We have your image. We have the inflection of your tone. Everything is exactly document[ed] as you chose to present it,” Silverii said.

Lafourche Parish District Attorney “Cam” Morvant is a big fan of the high tech tool.

“We’ve actually used it in a couple of judge trials already and have been very successful. We have not used the video cameras in front of a jury yet,” Morvant said.

Morvant said the video helps make his job easier.

“To be able to walk into court and not only have a detective or have a police officer explain to a jury what happened. Then we can tell them we are not only going to explain it to you we're going to show it to you,” Morvant said.

Silverii says Thibodaux is the first police department in the state to use them on all uniform patrol officers.

16 cameras are part of the force, all paid for with a $15,000 grant from the Lorio Foundation.

"I think it’s a great idea that our policemen should be equip with the latest technology to help them do their job," Mary Dupre, who lives in Thibodaux, said.

The cameras also capture how police officers act in the field.

Silverii said the video can be used as "game footage" for officers to use as a teaching tool.

“That’s what we do we've got rookie officers that are under training right now. We can take those videos from different situations, and they can sit in their unit [with their] laptop and watch that with an experienced officer as they drill them on what did you see right? What was wrong,” Silverii said.

Silverii said he plans on ordering more cameras for the department this year.

“Anything that we can do that makes us better public servants we're going to do it,” Silverii said. “... We are not going to be forced or wait till something bad happens. We are always looking how do we better serve the public."

  

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