Nashville Mayor, police chief say body cameras are a top priority

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The mayor of Nashville says body cameras are a priority for police, but what about the price tag?

After the police shooting of Jocques Clemmons many are calling for officers to have body cameras, but not everyone is on board.

Mayor Megan Barry has been holding budget hearings this week, and Thursday was the police department’s turn.

A chunk of the budget included more than $30 million for body cameras.

Police Chief Steve Anderson was front and center, asking the mayor for a large sum of money to fund his operating and capital budget.

“We’re proposing a $26 million increase in our staffing budget; in our operating budget this year,” Anderson said.

(Photo: WKRN)

The chief is asking for about $50 million for body cameras along with patrol car dash cameras, new in-car computers, servers, backup servers, wireless uploads, and other operating costs for 1,400 officers.

There will be 3,100 body cameras, which will give them two per officer and one as a backup. In addition, they’ll have 300 spare units in case one breaks.

“We’re not proposing a Cadillac system, but we are proposing a Chevrolet or Ford that starts every time and has four tires to be able to get us somewhere,” explained Chief Anderson said.

Mayor Barry will have some tough decisions to make.

“Clearly, wanting to put body cameras on our officers is a top priority,” she said.

The recent call for body cameras came after the police shooting of Jocques Clemmons.

(Photo: WKRN)

“One of the things the chief and the police department want to make sure is that is transparency and accountable with body cameras and think that’s just one tool to use,” stated Mayor Barry.

But some groups, like Gideon’s Army, say spending that much is not a good use of taxpayer’s money.

“One of the things that we listed as a demand was actually not body cameras. We talked about instituting a civilian review board as one of our priority,” volunteer Joanie Evans said. “We also talked about the concept of divestment investment, which means divesting from further funding of the police and investing in the community.”

“Chief Anderson needs to take a step back and listen to what community members are asking for and not just making discussions he thinks are best because that has shown to be unsuccessful. That’s how we got to the situation with Jocques Clemmons being killed,” added Evans.

Chief Anderson says he never made a request for funding that even approaches that amount. He also said if body cameras are to be successful, Nashville must embrace it with no shortcuts.

Click here to read Anderson’s full remarks