KPD Chief Thomas provides update on progress of body camera effort

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Chief of the Knoxville Police Department gave an update Wednesday night on an effort to equip officers with body cameras.

The push for body cameras, or bodycams, became front and center for city officials following a deadly KPD-officer involved shooting on Aug. 26. That shooting is still under investigation.

Chief Eve Thomas spoke at the Police Advisory and Review Committee meeting. She said her goal is to eventually have everyone on patrol equipped with a bodycam, but they’re starting off with testing the technology.

In fact, they’ll have four officers testing bodycams in the next few weeks.

“It’s just another tool in transparency to show that if we are doing the right thing and if we’re doing the wrong thing we need to address that as well,” Chief Thomas said. “We have 2 body cameras that we have now, and we have requested 2 more. So we will have 4 officers testing those in the next few weeks.”

The push took center stage following a fatal officer involved shooting in August. The next day, demonstrators marched to the city council meeting, calling for body cameras and urging for more transparency and accountability.

It’s clear it was still top of mind for some of those stepping up to the podium at Wednesday’s meeting.

A resolution passed last month by city council is now paving the way to start exploring the cost of body cams.

“What we’re looking at is the different features on those body cameras and what we’d like to have, how expensive the storage will be, how expensive it will be to redact things that need to be redacted with those body cameras, for example – juveniles. We can’t have kids faces at schools,” Thomas said.

The chief says they’ll serve as a supplement to their in-car footage.

“To gain an additional tool and gain another point of view from an officer’s point of view and what they’re pointed at and the way they’re facing, just gives us a better way to show whats going on in the situation,” the Chief said.

We also asked Chief Thomas about immediate next steps.

She says that’s getting a policy in place for using the test cameras and getting the officers trained on them.

City council’s resolution asked for the cost and implementation of a body camera program by Jan. 15, 2020. Chief Thomas expects to have that information well before then.

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