Metro Nashville Police Department to activate new police body cameras this week

Posted at 3:37 PM, Mar 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 19:55:25-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department will undergo training to launch the new police body cameras this week.

Last week, the department unveiled the WatchGuard body cameras more than 20 officers will wear and the accompanying camera systems inside their patrol vehicles. Prior to the demonstration, police also released a 21-page policy detailing how the program will work. It comes after years of conversation and community outcry, especially after two high-profile officer-involved shootings.

"This is a complex and complicated matter. Our police officers want these cameras 100 percent," Captain Blaine Whited said in the meeting last week.

The patrol car systems will include three cameras capturing different angles.

"They both talk to each other and they're fully synchronized. So, what the officer sees, the car sees at the same time," Whited added.

Officers will have to manually press record for any interaction with citizens including traffic stops, arrests and pursuits. Once activated, 60 seconds of video prior to will be captured. While officers aren't required to get permission to record, they're encouraged to tell the people they're dealing with.

Anyone with the cameras are not able modify, alter or delete recordings. If they fail to record, there will be an investigation which could lead to a disciplinary hearing or termination.

There are reasons why officers must deactivate like official meetings, if they're on a break or discussing ongoing investigations. However, if they must stop, officers are required to say the reason, so it's recorded.

This is long overdue, “Fraternal Order of Police President James Smallwood said. "We're happy to have cameras hitting the streets here in the next few weeks."

The FOP didn't provide recommendations, but the Community Oversight Board gave its input. Jill Fitcheard, the COP executive director told NewsChannel 5 that she was hoping more officers would have the cameras by now but is remaining hopeful. She provided recommendations including how to obtain body footage.

Chief Steve Anderson said the videos will be handled like any other public records requests.

Officers must check at the start of the shift if there’s an issue with the camera. Recordings are stored and may be retained for a few months to several years.

Prior to each shift, cameras must be inspected to make sure they're working and charged. After each shift, the videos will be uploaded through a wireless connection which will be biggest test in the coming weeks.

The DUI and Traffic Enforcement Unit will first get the cameras. At least 25 more officers should be equipped with the cameras by May as part of the second roll-out phase. The officers will come from one precinct which has not been determined. It's unclear when the entire department will have cameras.

To read the full policy, click on this link.