NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After three years of delays, frustrated community activists ramp up their push to ensure Metro police officers will have body cameras.
Members of five community organizations held a protest outside of Mayor John Cooper’s office Tuesday evening. They chanted “three years, three mayors, and still no cameras.” They said they were speaking out to make sure the issue isn’t forgotten.
“It has been 859 days since the Metro Council allocated funds for body cameras,” said Theeda Murphy, with Community Oversight Now. “We were promised something that would ensure our safety.”
Three years ago, many of the same people interrupted a Metro Council meeting and demanded police body cameras. The Metro Council approved $15 million for body and dashboard cameras in June of 2017.
However, last month Metro police said the department’s plan to purchase body cameras was put on hold due to the city’s budget problems.
“Every time body cameras get close to being sent out, something else comes along and takes it away,” said Shelia Clemmons Lee.
Clemmons Lee’s son, Jocques Clemmons, was shot and killed in February of 2017 by Metro police officer Joshua Lippert after a traffic stop in a parking lot in the James A. Cayce homes. She believes body cameras would increase police accountability and trust between officers and members of community.
“This is just a way to ensure police will think before they pull that trigger.” said Clemmons Lee.
Mayor John Cooper released a statement regarding the delays: “Accountability is a top priority for Mayor Cooper’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. 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. We’ve made a great deal of progress in recent weeks, thanks to the hard work of many parties. We look forward to sharing a practical, evidence-based plan for initial camera deployment and testing in the coming weeks.”
Community members said they had no plans to back down until the body cameras were up and running.
“If we have to do something every week until someone hears us, then that’s what we’ll do,” said Clemmons Lee.