County approves funding to hire 5 paralegals to review body came - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

County approves funding to hire 5 paralegals to review body camera footage

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

Shelby County Commission passed an amended resolution that will allow its administration to hire five part-time video paralegals to analyze video captured on Memphis police officers' body cameras.

The part-time positions will be paid for with unused funds.

Right now, Memphis Police Department has three forensic video paralegals, and will soon hire seven more to handle what will eventually be 72,000 hours of videos collected each month. The video paralegals hired by Shelby County will be responsible for reviewing body camera video for the District Attorney General's Office.

Full funding in order to complete the body camera roll-out will continue to be discussed throughout the budgeting process for fiscal year 2017.

The commissioners agree body cameras are important, but they don’t want to pay for video analysts for the District Attorney General’s Office. Ultimately, commissioners settled on a short-term solution to buy themselves time.

The long list of reasons county commissioners had for not wanting to pay for five video analysts began with the DA’s office technically being a state agency.

"If these cameras are so very important, and you being a state agency, how come the state ain’t stepping up and putting some money in?” asked Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland.

D.A. Amy Weirich said the state saw it as a county issue.

Commissioner Heidi Shafter questioned whether Weirich’s office had fully researched the best way to handle video evidence, saying she had contacted several other cities that do things differently.

"Jumping into something without having a full-fledged rational plan is problematic for me, and should be problematic for everybody up here,” Shafter said.

Weirich told the commission the video analysts were absolutely necessary for her office to effectively use the video evidence.

"If you put body cameras on all 2,000 officers tomorrow morning, it will shut the criminal justice system down. It will shut my office down,” Weirich said.

Shelby County Chief Administrative Officer Harvey Kennedy said there are currently some unfilled county jobs, and by using existing funds budgeted for those other positions, the county could hire part-time temp workers.

“Looking at some retirees that are probably well-trained in that, and if they're retired they can be brought back on with limited hours,” Kennedy said.

The commissioners voted to support the compromise.

"Whether it's temporary, whether it's part-time, whether eventually we get to full-time funded positions, every little bit helps us make sure that the victims are being protected and that the process, the criminal justice process, works to its fullest extent,” Weirich said.

Comissioners will have until the end of June to decide if and how to fund the full-time video analyst positions.

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