NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - District Attorney Glenn Funk is responding to criticism by a former mayor of Nashville that he inflated the price of body cameras and tried to “extort jobs” out of the process.
After the city announced this week that all police officers would be outfitted with body cameras, for a dramatically lower cost that what was projected last year, prompted former mayor Megan Barry to tweet her criticism of Funk.
Nashville police to begin full deployment of body-worn cameras https://t.co/whpU7fpfhz via @tennessean Finally! Clear from the start that the DA cost projections were massively inflated & intended to either stop body cameras or extort more positions.— Megan Barry (@MeganCBarry) June 8, 2020
“…clear from the start that the DA cost projections were massively inflated and intended to either stop body cameras or extort more positions,” Barry tweeted.
Funk agreed to answer questions from News4 Investigates.
“The former mayor is saying you either tried to stop it all together or you just wanted more positions for your department,” asked News4 Investigates.
“I have always supported the body camera initiative. In addition, the only positions I want in my officer are the only ones I have to have. I want to be a good steward of the public treasury,” Funk said.
But the cost projections – estimated last year in a study to be $30 million alone for the district attorney’s office and would require more than 200 additional employees.
“When they brought it to me, I gasped,” said Funk.
Funk said that estimate was made on having to redact, screen and provide copies of body camera footage based on the average number of cases – 55,000 a year.
So why the cost discrepancy?
Funk said after reading the report, he realized the way the plan was suggested – along with the cost – was not something the city could embrace.
“The general concept that metro had been operating under to try and deploy body cameras was not going to work,” Funk said.
Funk said he and his chief financial officer began to explore how other cities were implanting the cameras.
Ultimately, based on a model in San Diego, they came up with the idea that a room in the courthouse would be use solely for lawyers to review body camera footage.
In the room, an employee with the district attorney’s office will find the video and allow lawyers to see it.
Funk said what is shown on the video will help both defense attorney and prosecutors see what evidence exists.
Funk doubts in most cases that copies or redacting will be needed, and only those that go to trial – an average of 300 a year – will need redacting and copied.
The cost to implement the room and not have to make copies and redact all the footage dropped the price tag dramatically.
The mayor’s office reported this week that the company who is providing the body cameras to metro police have allowed them to defer payments for a year.