Nashville Mayor John Cooper unveiled the city’s several step plan for Metro police officers to start using body-worn cameras (BWCs) Tuesday.
The announcement comes a week after people showed up to Cooper’s office to protest Nashville’s inaction in deploying BWCs.
“Nashville’s residents and police officers have been anxiously waiting for body-worn cameras since the initial announcement three years ago,” Cooper said. “I understand and share the community’s frustration over the wait. Basic questions about how video will be used and shared hadn’t been addressed.
The rollout plan will begin in March with 24 BWCs going to officers in the Metro’s DUI and Traffic Enforcement Units. Two months later, an additional 20 BWCs will be in the “beta pilot program” for three to six months, which will help determine the costs of this program.
“It’s important that we get this done, and it’s important that we get it right,” Cooper said. “This plan puts cameras in the field as soon as the infrastructure is there to support them and allows us to learn what works in the process.”
Several issues have delayed the camera rollout including Metro agencies not finalizing policies on how police video footage would be shared, and the Metro Nashville Police Department not having the “infrastructure” to support wireless uploads. The infrastructure for this program is expected to be in place by May.
Furthermore, the cost of these cameras factored into the delayed plan. Last week, Davidson County District Attorney General Glenn Funk released a report that suggested Nashville should not overpay for this BWC technology.
“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,” the report said.
“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 continued.
In October, Funk estimated that this system would cost almost $30 million annually. The DA’s office anticipates hiring an extra 248 people to handle the increased workload.
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Battleground State News. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected]
Photo “John Cooper” by John Cooper. Background Photo “Police Body-Worn Camera” by Ryan Johnson. CC BY-SA 2.0.