Opening of the Lafayette police station in the city center; the camera system has an eye on the city
The Lafayette Police Department unveiled its latest crime-fighting initiatives — a downtown neighborhood and surveillance system that will give the agency access to hundreds of cameras around the city.
Both additions were announced Wednesday at a meet and greet at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center compound and were touted as measures to help the department and make residents safer.
Precinct 5, operational since June 1, has been talked about for more than 10 years.
Safety is critical to the continued growth of downtown businesses and residents, said Anita Begnaud, chief executive of the Downtown Development Authority.
“It’s something downtown has wanted for a very long time and several jurisdictions have talked about doing it, but this one has actually implemented it,” she said.
“It’s going to be something that’s going to help us when we promote downtown to more residents and businesses than there is a dedicated police presence,” Begnaud said.
It’s also important to have a group of officers who know downtown well, Begnaud said. The region presents its own unique challenges and environment and the police who work there regularly will be better equipped to meet those needs, she said.
“We want officers to be excited about working downtown; to have people know their names and know their faces and feel comfortable around them,” she said. “It’s just going to help us strengthen our network of residents and businesses.”
The compound will be led by Captain Chastity Arwood, who has been with the department for almost 30 years. Arwood said she was excited to lead the precinct and increased officer presence downtown.
“Our goals are to work with downtown residents and business owners to hopefully make everything safer in the area,” Arwood said. “I hope we can work together to solve the problems they are having downtown.”
LPD gets Fusus, a new surveillance system
The police department also hopes a new surveillance system, Fusus, can help it target crime downtown and in other parts of the city.
Fususwhich is also used by the Atlanta and the Shreveport Police Department, has been in place since December, said Sgt. Brad Rubin. The system can integrate a variety of cameras and create a real-time image for officers.
“One of the issues that we had not just downtown, but Lafayette as a whole was that we had a lot of different camera systems,” Rubin said. “We have found a system that can not only implement government cameras, but also public cameras and private cameras, and this is a benefit for both organizations and the police department.”
The department has a number of cameras that it can lend to businesses and residents free of charge through Fusus, which would give the department access to those cameras and store about a week’s worth of footage.
Fusus also has artificial intelligence that can allow the department to search for a specific image like “truck” or “man”.
This will also allow videos to be exported to the department’s evidence system, reducing the chain of command. Videos can also be easily shared with other departments, Rubin said. The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office Real Time Crime Center has access to the program.
Rubin said that when the department first looked at Fusus, they wanted a program that could integrate cameras at a lower cost. He also wanted a system accessible to multiple agencies and agents everywhere. Fusus can be accessed on an officer’s phone or laptop.
Going forward, body-worn cameras and officer dash cams will be integrated into the system, allowing live streaming of those viewpoints, Rubin said.