JEFFERSON PARISH (WGNO)— Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto made the announcement that its deputies would soon be equipped with body cameras. He made the announcement on Thursday during a Zoom call part of a Jefferson Democratic Executive Committee Meeting.
“In June of this year, I signed a $8.7 million dollar contract to buy the cameras and they should be delivered in two weeks,” Sheriff Joseph Lopinto with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said.
JPSO ordered 500 body cameras costing $8.75 million dollars over five years.
“Cameras are not cheap by any means. A priority of 8-million dollars doesn’t happen easily,” Sheriff Lopinto said.
Sheriff Lopinto made the announcement during a Zoom meeting of the Jefferson Democratic Executive Committee, which came as a surprise.
Sheriff Lopinto made it clear that the reason its taken so long to get body cameras was because of the cost. He said JPSO had a $3-million deficit when he became Sheriff, and they needed new radios which cost $800-thousand a year.
“I’ve never been opposed to cameras. I said cameras are a good thing, just needed to find a way with the budget to be able to do it,” Sheriff Lopinto said.
His announcement comes after JPSO has been under scrutiny from the ACLU of Louisiana for their handling of certain incidents and for not using body cameras.
“It is never a situation that we are trying to avoid transparency,” Sheriff Lopinto said.
In a statement from ACLU of Louisiana Legal Director Nora Ahmed said:
“Sheriff Lopinto’s decision to begin the process of equipping Jefferson Parish deputies with body-worn cameras is long overdue, but it’s a good start toward holding this agency accountable. Body cameras are key to police transparency and after growing recognition that JPSO has been wholly unaccountable to the people, these cameras will have the potential to serve as a much-needed oversight tool. But our work doesn’t stop here. The ACLU of Louisiana will continue to demand that all JPSO deputies are outfitted with body cameras and that the program is implemented with strong policies to eliminate secrecy and ensure an end to unconstitutional policing. We will fight as long as it takes to restore community trust and end this gruesome epidemic of police violence that JPSO has inflicted on Black and Brown communities for decades.”
“We did our due diligence looking for the highest quality. Good news is body cameras are now on the way,” Sheriff Lopinto said.
Sheriff Lopinto said the rollout won’t begin all at one time. In November their deputies will be properly trained on how to use them. The plan is for them to be used in full force before Christmas.
In addition to the body cameras, they will have car cameras—cage cameras in the back of the patrol units and dash mounted cameras in the front.