NASHVILLE, Tenn. - When Officer Samuel Johnson hit the streets wearing a body camera mounted on his chest in October of last year he was one of the first officers to do so while on the clock.
"Nashville's a great city, we have numerous people coming here daily. We have fantastic police department, good officers and this is going to make sure everyone stays honest, police and civilians here in Nashville," he said.
At the time, the department was testing the body cameras on 20 of its officers. However, since then the conversation has gone relatively silent.
“There is absolutely no reason to not have these and we’re one of the last departments that I know of that doesn’t,” local attorney Jim Todd said.
Todd believes once the department does get body cameras it'll actually save money. “I think you’ll save money in the long run by cutting down on litigation in the court system because everybody will actually have a good perspective of exactly what happened,” Todd explained.
In July of last year the city approved $15 million for the body camera program. However, that budget, according to metro police, does not include staffing for the program. None the less it's still moving forward, just slowly.
"We've narrowed it down to four vendors and they'll be bringing their wears in for us to test and we'll make an evaluation and then we'll go from there," Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson said.
In smaller departments body cameras have proven to be a vital piece of equipment. You may recall heart stopping body cam video from an officer in Algood, Tennessee as he approached Floyd Cook, a convicted rapist who was on the run for six days in May of 2016. He shot officer Ahscari Valencia in the chest. Thankfully, he was wearing his bullet proof vest.
“It protects the police from a safety perspective. It protects the police from a frivolous lawsuit perspective, and it protects civilians because when they’re pulled over they want a record of what happened just as well,” Todd explained.
Anderson said the department plans on giving every metro officer a body camera. Currently, that number sits at 1,480 officers with an authorized strength of 1,510.