Clemmons introduces bill requiring body cameras for MNPD

Rep. John Ray Clemmons, shown here during the 2019 mayoral debate, has introduced legislation that will require Nashville police to use body-worn cameras by early 2021.

State Rep. John Ray Clemmons was joined by colleagues and advocates to announce the introduction of his legislation to mandate the full implementation of body-worn cameras and patrol car cameras in Nashville by February 10, 2021.

“The advocates and faith leaders joining me today have led this effort for years, and I am honored to stand with them to assist in this cause,” said Clemmons. “According to a Vanderbilt University poll, 93% of Nashville residents support the use of body cameras to record police interactions with the public. Fully implementing body-worn and dashboard cameras will help restore community trust, protect officers and the public, as well as promote transparency and accountability for officers and our community through objective evidence.”

“Since the Driving While Black report was released on October 25, 2016, 1,183 days have passed and Nashville has had three mayors, three budgets, three RFP’s, two police-related shootings, over $25 million allocated to the MNPD, countless excuses, and very few body cameras,” Clemmons said. “We respectfully understand the challenges, but our city’s patience has run out.”

“With respect to the police officers’ dedication and service to the community, there has been a historical tension and distrust with the African American Community, inner-city and the police department of Nashville,” said Rev. James Turner II, president of the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship and pastor of New Hope Baptist Church.

“So with that, the body cameras are a step in the right direction to ensure full transparency and safety with several events that have occurred in Nashville and around the country with the African Americans and people of color. To have state support to ensure that every police officer has a body camera, we thank Rep. John Ray Clemmons for his insight and courage to use his office and support from the state level to what needs to happen in Nashville Tennessee.”

The legislation, as drafted, would: require full implementation of body-worn and patrol car cameras in Metro Nashville by February 10, 2021; require the chief law enforcement official to develop and implement policies and procedures with community input; require the storage of video and audio recordings for minimum terms; create a criminal offense for the manipulation of, tampering with, or destroying audio and visual recordings; and, make the device’s recordings public records with certain currently codified exceptions.