KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County District Attorney Charme Allen is in full support of Knoxville police equipping officers with body cameras by summertime.
Speaking a day after Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon told City Council she is committed to providing KPD officers with body-worn cameras, Allen said the move is another tool for law enforcement to use during investigations.
“It’s part of a larger case. It’s always wonderful to have a crime on video, but just because we have it on video doesn’t mean that there’s not other pieces of evidence that we have to bring forward,” said Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen.
Allen says body camera footage alone won’t carry an investigation, but rather, is part of the overall investigation.
“I hear people saying, ‘We want that body camera released immediately, the public has a right to know exactly what happened immediately.’ There are often times if we release that body camera immediately it would hamper our investigation. It would shut down other leads,” said Allen.
In September 2019, city and police officials announced they ordered two body-worn cameras for KPD to begin evaluating for officer us in a push for enhanced technology.
The test included one camera connected with an officer’s in-car dash camera and a second independent of the car system. Both were worn for 90 days.
A KPD spokesperson tells WATE 6 On Your Side the testing phase was mostly to get an idea of the workflow, system of processing request, and where officers would wear the cameras.
The discussion for bodycams became front-and-center for city officials following a deadly Aug. 26 KPD officer-involved shooting that the following day resulted in a protest and community march to a city council meeting at which marchers said they wanted police to wear the cameras for better transparency.
A vocal supporter for bodycams, Constance Every, an activist with Black Lives Matter Knoxville and Black Coffee.
“Many of the community members, if you talk to these areas, where I said the lower income, the black and people of color communities. That is one of our biggest fears. People do fear the police because of lack of accountability,” said Every.
Every says equipping KPD officers with body cameras is “long overdue” and is hopeful Kincannon’s announcement is a step in the right direction for positive community relations.
“I would give credit to Indya to recognize as a mayor that need from the communities that are affected by this, that being a concern, taking the initiative to do it,” said Every.
Next steps for the DA’s Office: Finding the right procedure and protocol for any footage privacy and establishing guidelines for what could be used in court.
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