System error causes Metro Nashville Police Department body camera footage to upload incorrectly

Posted at 6:30 AM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 23:12:20-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Metro Nashville Police Department is having issues with its body-worn and in-car camera system. The department said some videos are turning up incomplete when they transfer to the storage server.

MNPD said officers first noticed the issue on May 6, when the district attorney’s office inquired about a DUI video, and immediately notified WatchGuard engineering staff.

Information Technology personnel have now determined that officer or supervisor videos related to 183 arrest/citation situations — 55 involving body-worn cameras; 128 involving in-car cameras — between April 7, 2021 and July 7, 2022 are incomplete on the storage server.

Also, another 492 calls for service not involving arrest or citation were incomplete as well.

During that time, 1.7 million video events were recorded by officers and uploaded to the storage server.

MNPD staff has determined the incomplete videos were all fully received by the upload server, but then did not totally transfer to the storage server.

It's a problem the Community Oversight Board recently became aware of.

"We just found out yesterday, thirty minutes before the press release. And so I found that to be really concerning, it doesn't really show transparency in my opinion," said Jill Fitcheard, the executive director of the COB.

In a statement, the Public Defender’s Office says the error could result in a miscarriage of justice. Chief Public Defender Martesha Johnson released this statement:

“The Nashville Defenders believe that our clients deserve the best defense possible, and the best defense will be informed by thorough investigation. Thus it is essential to seek the best evidence available at the earliest opportunity when investigating every case. Failure to maintain or produce such evidence for any reason can be harmful to an accused person's ability to present their defense. In some situations, the failure to maintain or produce evidence may result in a violation of an accused person's constitutional rights and a miscarriage of justice.”

Police said in situations where there was an incomplete transfer, they appear to involve either a body-worn camera or an in-car camera, not both.

Additionally, the presence of other officers with cameras in those arrest/citation scenarios would provide supplemental video in those instances.

The District Attorney's office says it's reviewing each instance identified by MNPD and alerting defense counsel.

MNPD uses WatchGuard camera technology for body-worn and in-car camera systems. The department is urgently asking Motorola, the parent company of WatchGuard, to explain what's going on and make fixing the issue a top priority.

In a statement, Motorola Solutions said it's taking the matter very seriously and is working with MNPD to resolve the problem.

But the COB has concerns that more issues could arise in the future as more technology gets added.

"Now they're moving into having automated license plate readers. And if they have mistakes with those which we've had many conversations and debates for over a year about those and we're now embarking into that, and if they haven't been transparent with this. I can't really determine if they're going to be transparent with that," Fitcheard said.

MNPD said staff members have been writing computer scripts that will cause an alert when data from the upload server does not totally transfer to the storage server.

The department can then go directly to the original camera source that recorded the video and retrieve it directly from the camera within 72 hours of the original recording.

Currently, 1,367 personnel and 790 vehicles use this technology across the department.

Metro Police says a Motorola engineer arrived in Nashville on Wednesday to help the department fix the issue.