Protesters gathered outside Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s office Tuesday night wanting answers to why the city hasn’t implement body cameras on its police officers yet. They want cameras to be on Metro police officers by January, WPLN reported.
People expressed their frustration by shouting “three years, three mayors, still no cameras.” This referred to previous mayors not adding these cameras to the city’s budget.
Back in 2016, then-Mayor Megan Barry promised she would fund body cameras in the city’s budget. However, the body cameras did not make it in Nashville’s budget. This summer former Mayor David Briley signed a deal with the Metro Police Department to roll out the cameras, but it stalled because he lost re-election to Cooper in September.
The Metro Police Department scheduled to buy body cameras two weeks ago. However, Cooper put a stop to this plan after Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Justin Wilson told Metro Council to fix Nashville’s budget problems. If the city’s budget problems are not fixed, the state could become involved Wilson warned.
“None of us want to see that happen,” he said. “ You don’t want someone from the state capital to come and tell you how to run your city. And I guarantee you I really, really don’t want to do that.”
Cooper’s office says they are working on a solution to body cameras.
“Accountability is a top priority for Mayor Coopers’s administration. Critical decisions about policy and protocols for sharing information across the criminal justice system must be resolved before Metro can move ahead with the deployment and testing of body-worn cameras,” Cooper said in a statement. “The Mayor’s Office is working expeditiously with the DA, Metro police, and other criminal justice agencies to finalize a strategy for resolving these issues.”
The Mayor’s office also added that they will start testing for initial camera deployment in the upcoming weeks.
JUST IN: Nashville Mayor John Cooper issues statement on police body cameras. pic.twitter.com/pxEcUmt04o
— FoxNashville (@FOXNashville) December 4, 2019
Sheila Clemmons Lee, whose son was killed by a Metro Police officer two years ago and who spoke at the protest, told WLPN that putting off body cameras doesn’t “build trust with community members.”
“Every time the body cameras get close to being sent out, something else comes along and takes it away. We’re sick of it,” she said. “They want to talk about layoffs and budget cutting. Why do we have to be the ones that get budget cut?”
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