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Louisville Metro Police Orders Nearly 1,000 Body Cameras

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Louisville Metro Police earlier this week ordered 988 body cameras from the law enforcement equipment company TASER, according to a news release from the company.

LMPD has been considering placing body cameras on officers since sometime in 2012, police officials told WFPL in earlier interviews.

Department officials declined to provide any statements regarding the purchase order.

The Axon-Flex cameras allow officers to mount them on their body or on their thead, according to the TASER website. The cameras also have a "30-second buffer," which allows footage to be captured before the device is turned on by the officer.

The cameras are advertised on the TASER website as costing $599.

The total cost of the endeavor is expected to be about $2.4 million, according to a spokesman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

The police department also put an order in for a cloud-based video management and storage system, which is also operated by TASER, according to a press release from TASER.

Added personnel costs are also expected. The department may add as many as four civilian positions to oversee the data that will come from the cameras, Sgt. Major Robert Schroeder, commander of the Louisville Metro Police administrative services division, which oversees work such as recordkeeping and technology, said in March.

He said Fischer will look to issue a "note to pay for it" in the coming weeks. The cost is expected to be covered by the city's general fund, but will first need approval from the Metro Council, according to The Courier-Journal.

A pilot program is expected to launch this summer with about 100 officers in Division 5, said Sgt. Phil Russell, a police spokesman, in December.  Division 5  includes the Highlands and Clifton neighborhoods.

A full roll out to the department’s nearly 1,200 sworn officers is expected to follow by 2016, Russell said.

A online petition that began circulating earlier this year encouraging LMPD to equip officers with body cameras gained more than 2,700 supporters.

Schroeder said department officials conducted “physical tests of the cameras” before any purchase recommendations were made.

"LMPD is excited to move forward with this camera project," Schroeder stated in the TASER press release.

No details have been publicly released on training or new policies for the body cameras. Earlier this month, police officials said "due to proprietary concerns involving the vendor" all training efforts will not be made public.

In March, Schroeder said the then current draft policy will require officers to turn the cameras on during “anything you would consider a law enforcement action,” such as traffic stops, pedestrian stops or domestic violence responses.

More than 20 other cities also use Axon branded body cameras.

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.