Rallings: body camera rollout cannot be rushed

Rallings: body camera rollout cannot be rushed

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Though some Memphis residents are frustrated with the slow rollout of Memphis police body cameras, Interim Police Director Michael Rallings said the process can't be rushed.

"We just want to get it right," Rallings said. "You know, we pushed pause to get it right."

Rallings said Memphis' plan for body and in-car cameras is extremely ambitious when compared to other cities.

"Seventeen hundred body-worn cameras, 900 in-car systems--that's a heck of a project," Rallings said.

Rallings added that most cities roll out one system at a time, not both together.

Rallings and Memphis Chief Operations Officer Doug McGowen compared Memphis to other cities in the same phase of their camera implementation, including Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver and Milwaukee.

MGowen said between the timeline of the rollout, the cost of storage and the number of cameras, the cities have a lot of varying factors. However, all the cities have one thing in common.

"There is no magic answer here," McGowen said. "All cities are learning that as they go through."

Cost is an enormous factor when creating a timeline. Just storing the video will cost $10 million over a five-year period, funds that need to be factored into future city budgets. On top of that cost, the city will need to pay 10 part-time video analysts who will manage all of the video. Those positions will cost close to $110,000 this fiscal year and almost $320,000 next fiscal year.

Those 10 employees are expected to start work on April 5. Once they're on board, Memphis Police Department will launch an expanded field test of the body cameras on all of the officers that work at the Crump Station.

The test will eventually lead to full body camera implementation across the department.

"We've got a team of officers working 24/7 to get this right," Rallings said. "That's all I've asked. Give us time to get it right."

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