Metro Nashville police departments will soon begin using body cameras for their officers. The city will provide personal body cameras for approximately 1,500 officers with an additional 870 cameras attached to police car dashboards.
The program implementation experienced repeated delays for two years. Meanwhile, a police officer fatally shot a young, black male. Due to pressure from the President of Tennessee's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the police chief told department officers that the body camera program would begin in September 2019.
Use of police body cameras
Police body cameras are a controversial topic across the nation. Many cities are adopting their use for police to provide transparency and regain public trust for law enforcement. Laws written to accommodate the new cameras usually specify film storage length and set forth who has legal authorization to view the footage. Additional employees review the footage and disguise identifiable features of non-involved persons.
Citizens in the Nashville area may want to understand their rights by reading the body camera laws for their city. They may ask for assistance by contacting their local police department.
How to act when a body camera is in use
Nashville area citizens may wonder how to respond when they see a police officer wearing a body camera. The camera does not usually constitute a threat unless citizens draw negative attention to themselves by inappropriate behavior. Three possible places a citizen may spot a police officer with a body camera occur when driving, inside a public building, or walking in the city.
When driving on city roads
If a police vehicle with a dash-mounted camera moves into view, individuals who are lawfully driving should continue to look straight ahead and drive safely. They should cooperate immediately if the officer signals them to pull over. It is important to remember that the officer's body camera will reveal any signs of hostility by the driver; therefore, it is better not to appear angry, argue or admit guilt. The driver should truthfully answer questions and speak in a calm, respectful manner.
When in a public building
If an officer wearing a body camera approaches someone in a public building, the person may politely ask if the officer wishes to detain him. If the answer is no, the individual is free to leave the area.
When walking on city property
If an officer equipped with a body camera is nearby, individuals not involved should not stare at the officer or behave as if they are attempting to hide from the camera. They should look straight ahead and walk in a relaxed manner toward their destination.
Law enforcement officers must preserve the rights of Nashville area citizens at all times. If an officer with a body camera violates an individual’s rights, the footage can become evidence in any case that may ensue. A skilled criminal defense lawyer may be able to present alternative explanations for a defendant's behavior in police body cam footage.