Nashville Officials Should Proceed With Care With Body Cams, Report Says

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Nashville benefits when its law enforcement officers wear body cams, but Metro officials ought to watch themselves to make sure they don’t go overboard paying for this technology.

This, according to a new report two consultants prepared for Davidson County District Attorney General Glenn Funk.

Those two consultants, Kay Chopard Cohen of the Washington, D.C.-based Chopard Consulting, and Paul Wormeli, of the Virginia-based Wormeli Consulting, released their report about Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) this week.

“Very little research has been done illustrating the positive or negative impacts of BWC evidence. That said, it is hard to suggest a rationale where video evidence showing real-time actions would be detrimental to the justice system’s fact-finding process,” Cohen and Wormeli said in their report.

“But a jurisdiction should engage in a realistic cost/benefit analysis to assess the impact of the creation of this type of program to the entire budget of a city, county, or state.”

The report went on to say that Nashville police officers plan to deploy more than 3,000 mobile video cameras, both dash-mounted and body worn. The potential video generated by these cameras could exceed 12,000 hours each day. The two consultants guess that between 10 and 20 percent of this video imagery is evidentiary, leading to an estimate of between 1,200 and 2,400 hours of potential video to examine each day.

The two consultants interviewed district attorneys in San Diego, Boulder, Manhattan, and Detroit, among other places, they said in their report.

The use of BWCs might change how the public perceives the criminal justice system, Wormeli and Cohen said.

“The ‘CSI effect’ may lead jurors to believe that video evidence should exist in every case and that cameras will be able to capture everything an officer sees during an ongoing incident or at a crime scene,” according to the report.

“In anticipation of such influence on jurors, the prosecutor must work to counter these misunderstandings and provide information on the capability and limitations of mobile video evidence.”

As The Tennessee Star reported in October, Nashville’s criminal justice system needs close to $30 million to process and, if needed, redact videos that law enforcement officers record.

In 2018, Nashville had 8,297 felony arrests, about 20,000 misdemeanors, and about 26,000 citations, Wormeli said at the time.

Funk’s office, in that scenario, would need 248 new people to handle the extra workload, Wormeli added.

[pdf-embedder url=”https://tennesseestar.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/BWC-Consultant-Report-S-102019.pdf” title=”BWC Consultant Report-S 102019″]

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Metro Nashville Police Car” by Nashville.gov.

 

 

 

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