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Finding funding to roll out police body cameras for Memphis Police Department

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Getting body cameras has proven to be just half of the struggle for Memphis. Apparently no one considered the cost of using them.

"It will be about a million dollars is what we are estimating, minimum right now," Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich SAID.

She said she needs at least $1 million for just her office to get trained and handle the video.

If money is the issue, where do you find the funds?

Is the City Council ready to pony up the cash?

"If you look at our fund balance, we have about 85 to 90 million dollars in reserve, so if push comes to shove and it's a one time deal and if public safety in one of our top priorities, if we can't find it anywhere else, let's consider that. At the end of the day, let's get it done," Memphis City Council Member Edmund Ford said.

New City Council member Patrice Robinson said the council can also ask the mayor to find the dollars.

"The citizens deserve to know how we are going to find those dollars, where they are gonna come from and what is the end date. We don't need to make it some date in the future, we need to say what specific date when we will have those cameras up and rolling. Our community deserves that," Robinson said.

Some states have provided assistance to cities.

We asked Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam if that is possible.

"If there are things that make sense on a statewide basis, we will look at that. It's hard for us to do one offer for one city that we don't do somewhere else," Haslam said.

Last session a bill making body cameras mandatory for Tennessee law enforcement agencies, based on their ability to get federal grants or free money, never made it out of subcommittee.

State Rep. G.A. Hardaway, a co-sponsor, expects it to be reintroduced this year. Hardaway said the state is sitting on $600 million in excess revenue that could go to body cameras.

"Over half a billion dollars sitting in reserves. I say unless we spend it on something like this, we are doing a disservice to the citizens of the state of Tennessee," Hardaway said.

As you can imagine, with excess revenue plenty of people have different ways they think the money should be spent. Many agree the body camera issue should become a statewide conversation and is expected to be on the agenda this legislative session.

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