NAACP plans forum on body-worn cameras
Clarksville Police seek citizen input on program
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Clarksville African-American leaders are hosting a public meeting to discuss the police body-worn camera program being implemented in the City of Clarksville.
The meeting will be 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14 at Greater Missionary Baptist Church, 450 Ringgold Road, Clarksville. The event is sponsored by Concerned Citizens of Clarksville, Clarksville NAACP Branch 5582 and Greater Missionary Baptist. It is designed to give citizens an opportunity to learn about the program and provide input into police body-worn camera policies.
Jimmie Garland, president of Clarksville NAACP Branch 5582, will lead the meeting and moderate the discussion.
“Our community wants to hear more about what the Police Department is planning,” Garland said, “and we encourage people to turn out for this important meeting.”
Police Chief Al Ansley and Mayor Kim McMillan also will participate in the meeting. Chief Ansley will share information on body-worn cameras and offer details of the emerging plan. He also will provide responses to questions, comments and concerns from citizens submitted via an online survey form.
“From earlier presentations, it looks like the police have a lot of information about how the cameras can protect police officers,” Garland said. “But we also want to know how the program will be designed to protect the citizen if they are not in the wrong.”
The City has been awarded a $337,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, with an equal match approved by the Clarksville City Council, to begin equipping Clarksville Police Department officers with body-worn cameras. But implementing the program will be a complex, months-long process that will include developing policies, training officers and sharing information about the program with the community.
“We want the community to be engaged in the process, and these public meetings are an opportunity to have a discussion and answer questions,” Chief Ansley said. “A body-worn program is an important tool, but because this is a complex process, we expect Clarksville officers won’t begin wearing body-worn cameras until late 2018 or early 2019.”
Mayor Kim McMillan said the City wants to make sure citizens are involved in shaping the policy and informed on what to expect when the cameras begin to be used in Clarksville.
"We are taking this seriously, and proceeding in stages," Mayor McMillan said. "We intend to get it right. We urge citizens to turn out for the meeting at Greater Missionary Baptist to learn about this important program."