LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Louisville police taking second look at cop camera plan


Louisville police have started a new search for a company to outfit officers with body cameras, slowing down an effort already behind the department's self-imposed schedule.

Police officials told WDRB News in August that a goal of deploying cameras by July 1 wasn't met because of concerns about data storage, but that the department intended to purchase officer-worn cameras manufactured by Taser, as recommended in a 2013 internal report.

However, police issued a new "request for information" earlier this month from firms interested in providing the cameras.

"I think we're doing what we need to be doing in terms of due diligence, to make sure we get the right camera system for our department," Chief Steve Conrad said Tuesday in an interview at the city's Real Time Crime Center, which monitors more than 80 cameras across Metro Louisville.

Conrad's remarks came hours before officers shot and killed a man who had fired at police after a traffic stop in the Valley Station area, according to LMPD's account.

"I wish that we had had the cameras at Waterfront Park before (the) March 22 (incidents of youth violence). I wish we had had the Real Time Crime Center before that. I truly wish we had all of our officers equipped with cameras today," Conrad said. "But we've got to make sure we're taking the proper steps. I want to make sure we do it right. I want to make sure we're good stewards of the taxpayers' money."

Mayor Greg Fischer, in an interview before Tuesday night's shooting, said adding body cameras is a "really good thing."

"Clearly it's a trend that's happening all over the country and we look forward to being part of it too," Fischer said.

"Whether they're high-profile cases or not, the justice system needs to know what happened for the protection of the citizens and for the protection of the police officer," he said.

Maj. Robert Schroeder of LMPD's administrative services division said Taser remains the front-runner to provide body-worn cameras that follow an officer's field of vision, but LMPD could solicit a round of bids from manufacturers depending on the responses due Friday.

The department didn't meet a July 1 goal for one-fourth of patrol officers to start wearing the cameras, delaying the rollout because of concerns over storage costs of up to $1 million a year on a "cloud" system. The department's patrol officers, which currently number about 900, would wear the cameras.

LMPD now is seeking bids from vendors for a system managing footage from body cameras, as well as "storage, retrieval, documentation and management of digital video, images, voice recordings and other digital evidence." Such evidence includes recordings from in-car cameras and stationary security cameras; emails and text messages; information from private computers; and scanned documents, according to a request for proposal issued Oct. 15.

Bids are to be opened Nov. 5.

Louisville would be the largest police department in Kentucky to start using body cameras. At least eight police and sheriff's agencies in the state already deploy the technology, although policies vary widely. In the Louisville area, police in suburban Jeffersontown and Jeffersonville, Ind., are pursuing camera systems.

Officers in LMPD's Fifth Division - an area that includes the Highlands - would wear the first body cameras, according to police. Drug forfeiture funds are expected to pay for the program.

Police had previously said they expected the cameras to be in use by late 2014 or early 2015. Schroeder said that timeline has been pushed back slightly.

"We'd hope to get something within six months, but you never know these things turn out," he said.