It’s going to cost significantly more than expected to outfit the Metro Police Department with body cameras. But Chief Steve Anderson says the hefty price tag is the cost of transparency.
Anderson says it’s the most expensive request he’s ever made: $50 million to deploy body cameras to the force’s 1400 officers and their vehicles. And the hardware is just a fraction of that. There’s storage, software, infrastructure, a back-up system. He’s requesting money to hire another two dozen officers just to handle the deluge of footage.
Anderson says the rollout of the technology is not something the city can afford to do in pieces.
“Something is going to occur. And the question is going to be why did this officer not have a camera or why was this not recorded?” Anderson said. “So it’s something that I believe we need to do as a total package.”
But Mayor Megan Barry questioned the high cost. Especially since the department is also asking for money to hire 128 new officers and begin the three-year process of opening another precinct, all in an effort to deal with the lagging response times due to Nashville's surging population. Barry referenced cities such as Charlotte and Cleveland, both of which deployed body cameras at a fraction of the cost quoted by Anderson.
“I’m wondering why such a huge discrepancy in what is happening in other places with what you’re proposing,” Barry asked.
Anderson says the price will likely decrease once the bidding process starts. But quality is critical. This means, he says, paying more upfront to have a self-sufficient system that will last.
Mayor Barry has committed to funding the cameras, but the current price tag is nearly twice as much as her office planned for. In the spring the Mayor will present Metro Council with an official request for funding.