Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced Monday that the city police will soon have body-worn cameras and car cameras after city officials negotiated a far more favorable agreement with vendors than they previously had.
City officials previously said that Nashville taxpayers would have to pay $40 million in the first year for these type of cameras. They also said that the District Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office would hire more than 200 new full-time employees to accommodate this new technology.
“This coincided with the biggest budget challenge in our city’s history. We responded and immediately engaged with the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance to help Nashville develop a cost-effective approach to camera deployment that reflected national best practices,” Cooper said at a press conference Monday.
“We have also renegotiated dramatically more favorable agreements with our vendors. Over the course of five months of discussions, management decisions within Metro have streamlined workflows to reduce the estimated cost of body worn cameras from approximately $40 million to just $2.1 million in Fiscal Year 2021.”
Cooper said management reduced staffing requirements from an estimated 200 new staff to 16 additional staff. The operating expenses from this deployment will come from the Public Health and Safety Contingency Fund for the Metro Nashville Police Department in the mayor’s proposed Fiscal Year 20-21 budget, Cooper said.
“Our negotiations with Motorola have resulted in an agreement that payments will be deferred until Fiscal Year 2023,” Cooper said.
Deployment, Cooper added, will begin in July at the city’s West Precinct, which is the only precinct currently with the IT infrastructure in place to support full deployment.
At the press conference, At-Large Council Member Sharon Hurt, who is on the Metro Council’s Minority Caucus, called the deployment of body-worn cameras “a milestone for policing reform.”
“The people of Nashville have spoken. Our black community has shown up and made their voices heard. It is time to take care of the people, especially those who have been marginalized and victimized over a long, tragic history of systemic racism,” Hurt said at Monday’s press conference.
“An encounter with law enforcement is not something any Nashvillian should worry about having to survive. But the reality is black Nashvillians often fear for their lives when simply going about their lives performing mundane, everyday tasks.”
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Mayor Cooper Addresses the Metro Nashville Police Department” by MNPD.