The Nashville Tennessean reported yesterday that Metro Nashville Police Department will not be getting funding for body cams. This news is shocking. Why ? Metro Nashville Police Department has for years resisted a department wide implementation of body cams. Police s have for years hid behind the cost of the body cams as the reason why Nashville can’t equip it’s police officers with body cams. Yet, several police departments in middle Tennessee have body cams. The county with the least resources Cheatham County has body cams for all the deputies of the sheriff’s department. I commend Cheatham County Sheriff Mike Breedlove for having a department wide body cam program. You can even go to the counter and get a copy before the court date in General Sessions Court. In Nashville , Metro Nashville Police Department Blocks all efforts to use body cams. The question I want to ask why do we only have dash cam video equipment in DUI enforcement patrol cars.
Yesterday, I posted on why the police have an unfair advantage in DUI cases. Now what advantage do police have without body cams. Let’s look at just domestic violence cases. Normally the police try to determine who the initial aggressor is in all domestic violence cases. Witness’s are separated and they are interviewed. The interviews of the parties are not recorded. Police officers then use their memory when writing the police report or the arrest report. At a hearing they then review their typed notes or warrant instead of looking at video footage of the interviews. This is just one example of why the lack of body cams impacts the case. It could hurt case or help your case. One unfair advantage police have is they record citizen interactions when they want to record. Detectives in sex crimes unit will always be wearing a hidden microphone and tape your statements. The goal is to tape record a confession.
What can be done ? Citizens should insist on using their smart phones to record all interviews. My guess is the police will not allow you to record the interview at the scene. What does that mean to your criminal case ? It is something a lawyer can use to great advantage. Citizens called to jury duty decides one’s guilt or innocence. Should jurors require video for proof beyond reasonable doubt ? I don’t know the answer to that question but I may find out. If you live in Nashville , call you metro Nashville Councilman, Find out if they support body cams and if they want to implement the body cam program in phases.
My takeaway from years of debating police body cams in Nashville, Tn. is police administrators do not want the police to wear body cams. Now ask the same folks why do Metro police have cameras all over downtown watching citizens but police actions are not recorded.