Kimball OKs rules for police body cameras

Kimball City Attorney and Marion County Attorney Billy Gouger

KIMBALL, Tenn. -- Since approving the purchase of Eye3Witness body cameras for all its police officers in October, Kimball law enforcement officials have been working to craft guidelines for their use.

Now they have done so, and the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week unanimously approved an official body-worn camera policy after a review by the board and police officials.

City Attorney Billy Gouger said he took the department's provisional policy and overlaid it with the U.S. Department of Justice's recommendations for body camera usage.

"There were 32 or 33 recommendations that [the Justice Department] stated all of these policies should address," he said. "We made sure that Kimball's did do that."

The town's policy includes 17 sections intended to "help reduce violent confrontations, uses of force, and complaints against officers."

The parameters include when officers should and shouldn't use the cameras and stipulate that officer safety, not the ability to record an event, is the most important consideration.

Recorded data that is not used as evidence in a case is kept for 90 days, but data that could be used as evidence falls under the same rules as other evidence.

Any member of the department who violates the policy's rules is subject to disciplinary action, which could include termination.

Each city officer must sign an acknowledgement of the policy verifying they understand it and will abide by its rules.

Police Chief Tommy Jordan said Gouger did an "excellent" job combining the federal guidelines and Kimball's existing procedures.

The town's approved policy "really only elaborated" on the rules the department already was using, Gouger said.

"Overall, I think they already had a really good policy in place," he said.

Mayor Rex Pesnell said many municipalities across the country are "running into the same problems" when issuing the technology to police officers, and Kimball's policy will be under constant scrutiny by the board.

"It's one of those things where you have to do it for a year and see what kinds of problems you run into, and then adjust it," he said. "Right now, this is what we've come up with."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at [email protected]