MPD pressed on body cam issue in wake of national officer-involv - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

MPD pressed on body cam issue in wake of national officer-involved shootings

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

National officer-involved shootings have sparked a cry for the increased use of body cameras. Memphis is in the process of rolling body cameras out to all police. Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings said he is planning to roll out more body cameras.

Crump Station was the first station to get the body cameras, but they are now deployed at two other stations. But, some are still questioning why every officer isn't wearing body cameras yet.

"All of the body cameras should have been released," Pastor Dwight Montgomery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said. "People have expressed frustration."

Montgomery knows rolling out 2,000 body cameras takes time, but almost a year after the city purchased them he is wondering what the holdup is.

"I think to date we have over 600 body cameras deployed," Rallings said. 

Rallings said the previous administration put no planning into the logistics of deploying 2,000 cameras before they purchased them. He said they didn't plan how to handle and store tens of thousands of hours of video coming in weekly. That's something he and the district attorney general's office have been working to figure out as they go.

"We'll continue until we finish," Rallings said. "Hopefully by November we'll have full deployment of boy cameras, just like I promised many months ago."

But, after controversial officer-involved deadly shootings in other cities such as Tulsa and Charlotte, Montgomery said MPD needs to get them out as soon as possible to avoid similar situations.

"I believe there will be more transparency, therefore more trust, therefore a better relationship between the community and the police," Montgomery said. "And that's how you can make our city better and safer."

Rallings said he understands how people are feeling in the wake of the shootings, but said they should still remain safe and calm.

"I would ask everyone to remain calm," Rallings said. "Allow the authorities to investigate. Make sure that we know what the facts are. We respect anybody's right to protest. We want to make sure they are in the confines of the law and that they are safe."

Rallings said despite his efforts to get the body cameras out quickly, people need to stop thinking they will solve all problems.

"Everybody should understand the body camera's just one piece of the puzzle," Rallings said. "And it's not a perfect technology."

Still, Montgomery said using body cameras will be a big step in the right direction.

"I'm looking forward to them doing the right thing so that we can move forward as a community," he said.

Rallings said the slow rollout has allowed them to learn a lot and continue to revise policies to better train the officers how to use the cameras and when they should and shouldn't record.

As for releasing body camera videos, MPD and the DA's office have said video will only be released if it is not evidence in an active case.

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