The Metro Nashville Police Department will begin deploying body-worn cameras among officers in July, Mayor John Cooper announced June 8.
"George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery [and] Eric Garner, we know the names of these men and other black victims of police brutality because of cell phone recordings captured by eyewitnesses or bystanders," Cooper said during a press conference. “Body-worn cameras provide accountability when it comes to public safety."
In December, Cooper announced his plan to begin testing body-worn cameras on a small group of Metro Nashville Police officers in the spring. As of early June, MNPD's West Precinct is the only precinct equipped with the technology to support body cameras, according to Cooper.
As part of the deployment process, which will begin in July, 1,325 officers and 30 Metro Park officers will be equipped with body-worn cameras. MNPD will also install three additional in-car cameras inside the department’s 734 patrol cars "to further enhance accountability," according to Cooper.
"Body-worn cameras will promote trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they are sworn to serve," Cooper said. "They will be an important tool in addressing racial injustice throughout Davidson County.”
MNPD is expected to complete technology infrastructure upgrades to other precincts within six months, with body-worn cameras deployed to all other precincts by February 2021.
Previously, body-worn cameras were estimated to cost $40 million per year and require the District Attorney's office and Public Defender's office to hire more than 200 full-time employees, Cooper said.
The operating cost for body-worn cameras, which comes from MNPD’s public health and safety contingency fund, will now cost the city $2.1 million in FY 20-2021, with additional payments deferred until 2023, Cooper said. Staffing requirements have also been reduced from 200 to 16 new staff members.
Following Cooper's announcement, Metro Nashville's Community Oversight Board released a statement in support of the city's decision to fully implement body-worn and in-car cameras.
"Since its inception, the Oversight Board has identified body-worn and in-car cameras as a step in the right direction; however, we want to be clear that this is not the sole solution that will change organizational culture and fix systemic problems that have existed for decades, even centuries," the board said in the statement. "The reform necessary requires dedication and a multi-layered approach that is built on a foundation of accountability, transparency and communication."
As the cameras are implemented, the board said it encourages city leaders to be transparent and share status updates with residents on a regular basis.
"With full cooperation and engaged collaboration from city leaders, it is our hope that Nashville will set the standard on how change can take place if we work together," the board said.