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The Texas Department of Public Safety graduates 134 new highway patrol troopers

Texas DPS graduation February 2017

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw, Texas Public Safety Commission Chair Cynthia Leon, and members of the Public Safety Commission (PSC) today were joined by Texas Rep. Tony Dale as the department commissioned 134 men and women as the state’s newest Highway Patrol Troopers during the recruit graduation ceremony.  Rep. Dale was the keynote speaker during the ceremony, which was held Friday in Austin.  “The men and women here today have selflessly pledged their lives to protect the people of Texas by joining law enforcement – a noble profession that requires immense courage and sacrifice,” said Rep. Dale.  “The state is profoundly grateful for your dedication to becoming our newest Texas Highway Patrol Troopers.”  The D-2016 class, which is the department’s 158th training class and the largest since August 2000, includes 16 women, 16 former peace officers and 58 military veterans.  The oldest graduate is 51-years-old and the youngest is 21-years-old.  The new Troopers will report to duty stations across Texas in the coming weeks and spend the first six months in on-the-job training.  “I know each of you has worked tremendously hard in order to get where you are today, and your perseverance and achievements have been nothing less than remarkable,” said Chair Leon.  “We are honored to welcome you to the DPS family, and I know you will make us all proud as you walk out these doors to begin your new career serving and protecting your communities.”  The Troopers began the 24-week training academy in September of last year.  Instruction covered more than 100 subjects, including counterterrorism, traffic and criminal law, arrest and control procedures, accident reconstruction, first aid and Spanish.  They also received training in use of force, communication skills, firearms, driving, criminal interdiction, cultural diversity and physical fitness.  “These 134 men and women have risen to the challenge of DPS’ months-long training to prove their proficiency and dedication, and the department is honored to add them to our law enforcement ranks,” said Director McCraw.   “From this day forward, you will serve on the front lines protecting our communities from the full gamut of public safety threats, and Texas will be a safer place because of your commitment to duty.”  As part of the recruits’ community service project, the class raised funds for several causes, including $6,866 for the Green Beret Foundation; and $1,150 for the Louisiana State Troopers Association (to assist Troopers affected by flooding in Louisiana).  In addition, the class established the “158th Fund,” which will provide future recruits with financial assistance for miscellaneous medical expenses.  Members of the class also volunteered to be tested as potential donors for a national bone marrow registry.

2/27/17

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California Highway Patrol Officer killed in the line of duty

CHP Officer Down Lucas Chellew

Officer Lucas Chellew was killed in a motorcycle crash near the intersection of Stockton Boulevard and Fruitridge Road, in Sacramento, while pursuing another motorcycle.  Officer Chellew's motorcycle crashed during the pursuit. The motorcyclist he was pursuing fled the scene and remains at large.  Officer Chellew was a U.S. Army veteran.  He had served with the California Highway Patrol for eight years and was assigned to the South Sacramento Area Office.  He is survived by his wife, daughter, son, parents and sister. His father was a retired CHP officer and his sister also serves with the agency.

2/24/17

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Michigan State Trooper describes how two good Samaritans saved his life

MSP Trooper Samaritans

Two men are in custody all thanks to the help of good Samaritans. They stopped to help the officer who was being attacked.  For the first time, we're hearing from the officer and the man who helped him.  The Michigan state trooper described it as being in slow motion even though it took about 5 minutes for everything to happen.  The trooper says there was a moment where he began to think the worst.  Michigan State Trooper Garry Guild, was patrolling U.S. 31 Monday morning.  That’s when he clocked a motorcyclist going 92 miles an hour.  "Activated my overhead lights.  Got behind the motorcycle about two three car lengths.  He pulled over to the shoulder, slowed down briefly and sped away at a high rated speed,” said Guild.  Guild followed the driver to the Niles Buchanan exit.  Michael Barber, 21, lost control and crashed.  When Guild approached him, he didn't listen.  That's when police say the two got into a physical altercation.  "So I am trying to secure him and secure my duty weapon into my holster--put it into the holster. I'm on top of him.  Trying to get him in hand cuffs,” said Guild.  While restraining Barber, Guild saw 19-year-old Travis Wise sprinting towards him but not to help.  "The next thing I know, I'm in full choke-hold.  He comes behind me and puts his elbow around my neck.  He wrenched me back about 5 to 10 feet,” said Guild.  That's when Jerry Burnham happened to be driving by.  "We were on our way down the bypass heading towards Niles to get our taxes done.  We came up on this scene.  This motorcycle laying on the side of the road and a squad car.  My wife started yelling that the police officer needed help and told me to stop and help,” said Burnham.  Burnham and another man pulled Wise off the trooper.  They held him until help arrived.  Burnham said he didn't think twice about helping.  “I really was still kind of in shock that I even got out to do something.  I just did it.  I think that he was in need of help, and that's what we should do,” said Burnham.  Burnham says several other cars passed by and even slowed, but didn't help.  He says he was in the right place at the right time.  Guild says he tries not to think about what could have happened without help from a good Samaritan.

2/24/17

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Ohio Highway Patrol renews push for "Move over and slow down" campaign after recent tragedies

OHP move over law

“Imagine this: You’re driving on the highway and see an emergency vehicle up ahead with flashing lights stopped off the side of the road.  This is the time when you need to slow down or move over one lane,” states the opening of an Ohio Highway Patrol public safety announcement for Ohio’s Move Over Law.  The OHP, through a media release, is asking motorists to help keep their fellow drivers and law enforcement officers safe by following this law, which was enacted in 2009.  “Ohio law requires all drivers to move over one lane when approaching any vehicle with flashing or rotating lights parked on the roadside.  If moving over is not possible due to traffic or weather conditions, or because a second lane does not exist, motorists should slow down and proceed with caution,” according to an OHP media release.  In 2013, the law was expanded to also cover construction and maintenance workers as well.   “By moving over, motorists are helping to protect the lives of everyone who works on or uses our roadways,” said Sgt. Jeremy Kindler of OHP Chardon Post.  “It’s not just the law; it’s the right thing to do.’  OHP Sgt. Jim Smith, who was struck by a motorist on Mayfield and Auburn roads in Munson Township on July 29, feels that people get too busy or are in too much of a rush.  “Slow down and pay attention,” Smith said.  “Those few seconds that you are saving by not doing whatever it is you are doing, isn’t saving you enough time to risk a life.  Nowhere you have to be is worth a life.”  Kindler reports that during 2016, seven officers were struck within a eight-month period.  “We are putting out public safety announcements, we just want to make sure our motorists have a good understanding of what this law is and means and also what it means to everyone involved,” Kindler said.  Kindler noted that prior to 2016, citations weren’t really issued too often for this type of violation.  “With the increase in officers being struck from 2016 up until now, that’s an infraction and a violation that we are not only stopping and talking to you about, we are issuing you a citation,” he said.  OHP is enforcing this law with teams of troopers, Kindler explained.  “We usually have more than one officer working on the interstate,” he said.  “One officer makes the traffic stop.  The other officer will sit across from them, behind them or in front of them.  They watch as the violation occurs and runs a stationary radar.  If they fail to move over, or slow down, that is when the violation occurs.”  At that point, the second officer is then able to stop the motorist for the violation.  Depending on the court, fines for failure to move over or slow down can be doubled for a first offense and require a court appearance.  Kindler emphasizes the importance of the Move Over Law with the statement, “We want to go home at the end of the day.  “That’s our main goal for a traffic stop is not only to keep everyone else safe, but also to keep us safe as well.  This is near and dear to our hearts, to make sure that we are able to go home to our families at the end of the day just like everybody else is.”  Two law enforcement officers: OHP Trooper Kenneth Velez and Cleveland police officer David Fahey, were struck and killed on I-90 within a six-month period when motorists failed to move over or slow down.  Velez was struck on I-90 near Warren Road on Sept. 15 and Fahey was struck and killed Jan. 24 while putting out flares at the scene of an accident.  “You gotta think about the person on the side of the road as a person.  Think of that person as yourself and would you want someone flying by with 3 feet of you at 60 mph,” said Smith’s wife, Tiara, after he was struck.  “People think of that officer as a car.  Instead think of that officer as yourself or someone you love and be more considerate of that person as you are flying down the road.”  Smith recalls Velez as a good friend for 25 years and one he has known his entire career.  “This one hit me and my wife more than my own did,” Smith said.  “I was lucky to survive and he didn’t.  He didn’t have to die, it was a senseless tragedy.”  As he reflected on the crash that claimed Velez’s life, Smith posed the question:  “Why when you are on a road four lanes wide, why were you in that lane, when he was standing there on the side of the road?”

2/22/17

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Number of hit and run crashes increasing, Florida says

Florida hit and run

The number of hit and run crashes in Florida has increased every year since 2013, according to figures from the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.  The data has prompted the DHSMV to designate February as Hit and Run Awareness Month in an effort to reduce the number of hit and run crashes in the state. The initiative, Stay at the Scene, is in partnership with the Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Department of Transportation and AAA – the Auto Club Group.  “All motorists involved in a crash must be prepared to act responsibly and in accordance with state law,” DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes said. “Motorists are required to stay at the scene, provide certain information to the other parties involved and contact necessary law enforcement and first responders.  These actions may save a life.”  Staying at the scene is not only the law, but ensures that those impacted by a crash are safely assisted.  In 2016, there were 99,004 hit and run crashes in Florida with 15,851 resulting charges. Under Florida law, a driver must stop immediately at the scene of a crash on public or private property that results in injury or death.  Leaving the scene of a crash is a felony and a driver, when convicted, will have their license revoked for at least three years and can be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of four years in prison.  “Leaving the scene of a traffic crash is a crime,” Florida Highway Patrol Director Col. Gene Spaulding said.  “It is your responsibility to remain at the scene and immediately report the accident to law enforcement”.  You should do your best to provide immediate assistance to other motorists, passengers or pedestrians that may have been injured in the crash and wait for emergency first responders to arrive.”  Vulnerable road users, like bicyclists and pedestrians, are particularly at risk for drivers leaving the scene.  In fact, of the 179 hit and run fatalities in 2016, more than 55 percent were pedestrians.  During that same period, 18 to 28 year olds received over one third of all hit and run charges issued.  And 70 percent of those charges were filed against males.  “Leaving the scene of a crash is dangerous, and it can be deadly.  Help our officers render aid and protect lives by making the responsible decision to remain at the scene and immediately contact first responders,” said Coconut Creek Police Chief Albert (Butch) Arenal, president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association.  “Don’t make a bad situation even worse by leaving – it’s a felony.”  The most important thing a driver can do when they are involved in a crash is to Stay at the Scene and call for help.  The public is encouraged to report hit and run crashes by dialing *FHP (*347).  For more information on hit and runs and staying at the scene, go to flhsmv.gov.

2/22/17

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Two drivers in Alabama are dead in a head-on collision, and what state troopers found when they responded is tragic

ALHP father and son fatal crash

Jeffrey Brasher and Austin Brasher, 50 and 22 respectively, are dead this morning. They are father and son, according to the report from AL.com.  Both men lived in Bankston, Ala.  They collided head-on around 4:10 a.m on Fayette County 49 near Winfield.  Alabama state troopers say alcohol is a factor in the accident and that neither man was wearing a seatbelt when the crash occurred.  State police are still investigating, but they say that Jeffrey Brasher’s pickup, a 2006 Ford, lost control and hit his son’s pickup, a 2004 Chevrolet.  Authorities responded to the scene and pronounced Jeffrey Brasher dead there.  Five hours later, Austin Brasher passed away at 9:18 a.m. at the University of Alabama hospital in Birmingham.  Alabama State Police continue to investigate the accident.

2/21/17

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Tennessee Highway Patrol arrests human trafficker smuggling 12 people

THP traffic stop trafficking

On February 8th, 2017, Trooper Jeremy Miller of the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Interdiction Plus Team (IPT) stopped a white Toyota Sienna on I-40 eastbound in Hickman County for a traffic violation.  Upon speaking to the driver, Trooper Miller asked for a driver license which the driver stated he did not have.  The driver identified himself as Bernado Mateo-Lucas.  Trooper Miller continued to question the driver asking how many people were in the van.  The driver stated there were four additional people in the vehicle.  Trooper Miller observed six people counting the driver with an additional person lying under a blanket in the floor behind the driver’s seat.  As the interview continued, Trooper Miller noticed more movement in the back cargo area.  He counted six additional people lying on the floor for a total of 13 people in the vehicle.   The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection Blue Lighting Operations Center (BLOC) was contacted and given the driver’s name and information.  Trooper Miller was later informed by BLOC that Mateo-Lucas had a history of several human smuggling incidents and that his passport was fraudulent.  Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) responded to the scene and took 13 people into custody (nine adults and four juveniles). All 13 people where undocumented aliens traveling from Texarkana, TX to Nashville, TN.  They were from Mexico and various Central American countries.  The driver is an admitted illegal alien smuggler with several records in BLOC’s systems.  Agents with the Nashville HSI Office responded to the scene. HSI arrested Mateo-Lucas who was referred for federal prosecution in Nashville.  Mateo-Lucas is an undocumented alien from Guatemala and was federally charged with alien smuggling.  The four children were placed in the care of the government.  This is an ongoing investigation.

2/20/17

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Montana Highway Patrol commissions 12 new troopers

Montana graduation February 2017

The Montana Highway Patrol commissioned twelve new troopers on Friday at the 61st Advanced Academy Graduation ceremony.  Montana Attorney General Tim Fox addressed the graduates at the event, which took place at the Radisson Colonial Hotel in Helena.  Fox emphasized the importance of integrity for those who serve the public.  “Integrity is one of the most important characteristics that any individual can possess.  You’ll face some of the greatest challenges of your life while wearing this uniform.  But no matter what life throws at you, face it with integrity, as that is a true sign of leadership,” he said.

2/20/17

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Louisiana State Police deploys 165 troopers for Carnival 2017 and NBA All-Star Game

LSP Madri Gras and NBA1

The 2017 Carnival season is unique this year with the addition of the NBA All-Star game. Both of these highly attended events will draw large crowds in the French Quarter and around the metro area.  This will increase traffic in our area, resulting in increased aggressive and impaired drivers on our roads.  In an effort to ensure safety in the French Quarter and on New Orleans metro area roadways, the Louisiana State Police is partnering with the New Orleans Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, DOTD, and the Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Control throughout Carnival 2017 and the NBA All-Star game.  Governor John Bel Edwards has committed approximately 165 Louisiana State Police Troopers from across the state to supplement those Troopers already working in the city.  Troopers will be on assignment in the French Quarter and metro area, primarily focusing on proactive patrols, criminal investigations, crowd control and traffic control.  “Our commitment to public safety in New Orleans is ongoing,” said Gov. Edwards.  “Mardi Gras in itself is an exciting time to be in Louisiana, but adding in the return of the NBA All-Star Game makes it even better.  Col. Edmonson and the LSP are doing a tremendous job in assisting Mayor Landrieu and NOPD secure the city, but this added presence will help protect the people in around the City of New Orleans.  I am glad we are able to help, and I am looking forward to this exciting weekend in Louisiana.”  “Louisiana State Police is proud and excited to once again partner with our fellow law enforcement and the City of New Orleans for NBA and Carnival 2017,” said Colonel Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police Superintendent.  “Our primary focus during these events is protecting our citizens and tourists and ensuring that they have a memorable experience.  We cannot do this alone; we rely on the public to assist law enforcement by coming forward and expressing any concerns related to criminal activity or unsafe situations.  If you See Something that does not seem right, Say Something!”  Please remember to utilize the “See Something, Send Something” app to report activity to the appropriate investigators.  The app is found listed as See Send by My Mobile Witness, Inc. and is a nationwide suspicious activity reporting tool for citizens.  Both text and/or pictures may be submitted directly to public safety personnel.

2/17/17

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Texas State Troopers Rescued 76 Endangered Children Last Year

Texas Endangered Children

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced today that DPS Troopers – with the support of the DPS Interdiction for the Protection of Children (IPC) program, the Texas Rangers and DPS Special Agents – rescued 76 missing, exploited or at-risk children and initiated 42 related criminal investigations in 2016.  “Children who go missing, who are abused or at-risk of being abused don’t always make an outcry for help when they encounter an officer,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw.  “For this reason, the department’s IPC program is an indispensable tool; it has helped law enforcement across Texas, the nation and internationally to protect vulnerable victims, and ensure the criminals who target children face the full force of the law.”  The IPC program was implemented in 2009 to teach law enforcement officers how to recognize indicators of endangered children who do not actively seek out help or exhibit obvious signs of abuse.  As a result of receiving this specialized and targeted training, law enforcement officers can more readily identify and rescue children and arrest suspects.
As part of the 2016 totals, 19 children were rescued and 11 DPS IPC investigations were initiated in December alone.  Additionally, DPS Victim Services counselors also provided emotional support and referrals to other resources to 181 of the rescued children and family members last year.  The 42 criminal investigations initiated in 2016 focused on various alleged crimes, including:

  • 20 cases of sexual assault of a child;
  • 10 cases of possession of child pornography;
  • Two cases of human trafficking;
  • Two cases of indecency with a child; and
  • Three cases of potential registered sex offender non-compliance.

Since the program’s inception, DPS has initiated more than 100 criminal investigations, and rescued more than 250 children as a result of this training.  DPS partners with various law enforcement, victim services and Child Protective Services agencies to provide IPC training.  To date, DPS has provided IPC training to its own officers as well as more than 6,500 other law enforcement and child protective service professionals in Texas, across the country and internationally.  This training has also assisted other agencies in implementing similar programs within their own jurisdictions.

2/17/16

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More than 50 Indiana State Troopers are ready to go solo

ISP Patrol Cars

Tuesday was a big day for 54 probationary Indiana State troopers.  They headed to Indianapolis to pick up their very own patrol cars.  We're told they've been working hard for the last nine months. They spent six months in the academy, and the last three months training with other troopers.  Now the Indiana State Police say they are ready to serve and protect their community.   Sgt. Todd Ringle tells us it's a tremendous honor to be handed the keys to your first patrol car.   "It is a very rewarding feeling to be able to get in that car all by yourself and go to work and do something you dreamed about doing for a long time," says Ringle.  During the squad car ceremony, the State Police Chaplain said a safety prayer for each new trooper.  Wednesday, they started working solo as Indiana State Troopers.

2/16/17

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Florida Highway Patrol revives 'Arrive Alive' campaign but with a new twist

 arrivealive1

 

The Florida Highway Patrol-- along with local sheriffs and police chiefs-- is dusting off a decades-old 'Arrive Alive' program, but with a new twist. Data.  Analysts are combing through mountains of crash data in an effort to isolate areas in each county where there has been an uptick in fatal car crashes or serious injuries.  FHP Director, Colonel Gene Spaulding, says this doesn't just mean dusting off old signs.  “We’re identifying hot spots-- three to five hot spots in every county.  Where the biggest increase, the biggest number of fatal and serious bodily injury cases are occurring.  And believe it or not, you’d be amazed at how it overlays with the crime in the area too.  You look at the local crime data.  So disability, presence, awareness, education, and enforcement, if need be, is the key to this program,” says Colonel Spaulding.  The FHP director says one reason crime data mirrors crash data is because criminal elements include speeding, impaired driving, and driving recklessly.

2/15/17

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Dodge is giving its new police cruiser some very RoboCop upgrades

Dodge charger

The kinda dinky-looking 2017 Dodge Charger Pursuit is about to get a futuristic upgrade—if you think the dystopian vision of Detroit from 1986 cyberpunk thriller RoboCop is what our future will look like, that is.  Fiat Chrysler just announced a new feature for its police cruiser called the “Officer Protection Package.”  The free upgrade is “designed to prevent an officer from being ambushed from the rear while parked,” Jeff Komer, the company’s VP of sales in the United States, said in a press release.  By taking advantage of the car’s self-parking sensors, the Charger Pursuit will soon be able to detect if someone is approaching the police car from behind.  When it does, the cruiser’s doors will automatically lock, the siren will go bloop, the rear lights will flash, and the rear camera will show the officer what’s happening behind the car.  It almost feels like our police cars will soon be shouting, “your move, creep,” like the eponymous robotic cop.  The new feature does come at a time when police ambushes are happening at an alarming rate.  The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fundreported in November that ambush killings of officers is at a 10-year high.  This grim news came not long after a San Antonio officer was shot and killed after a man pulled up behind the cruiser, approached the window, and shot the officer while he was writing a traffic ticket.  That same day in St. Louis, another man pulled up next to a police sergeant and shot the unsuspecting officer in the face.  As odd as it sounds, it’s clear that some simple tweaks to existing technology could save the lives of policemen and women.  The new Fiat upgrade just plugs into the Charger Pursuit OBDII port and offers law enforcement a new line of defense against bad guys. And at the end of the day, cops need all the help they can get in the line of duty.

2/15/17

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Troopers rescue injured pelican from Skyway Bridge

FHP Pelican

Florida Highway Patrol troopers rescued an injured pelican from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Friday.  According to troopers, they found the pelican at the foot of the Skyway Bridge showing signs of distress.  It turned out that the pelican was caught in fishing line and had fishing hooks impaled in its legs.  Troopers say the injured bird was trying to cross the interstate and posed a danger to itself and motorists.  That's when Corporal Timothy Sleyzak and Trooper Raymond Ada called in Fish and Wildlife Lieutenant Evan Ladkowski to help rescue the bird.   Lucky for the pelican, later nicknamed Sunshine, these law enforcement officials were able to get him off the road and out of harm's way.  Sunshine was then transferred to Owl's Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife where he is expected to make a full recovery.

2/14/17

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Tennessee Highway Patrol exploring body cameras

THP Body Camera

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is exploring equipping its troopers with body cameras, a move that would make it the first statewide law enforcement agency to do so.  The idea is included a document called a "Request For Information," something public agencies file when they are interested in receiving information about a possible purchase.  The document also asks for more information about new "pursuit vehicle video" equipment, the cameras included in cars that record incidents on the road.  Lt. Bill Miller, a spokesman for the THP, said the move was not an indication of a policy shift but rather a search for more cost-effective in-vehicle equipment.  "Our current system requires video to be downloaded and stored in a hard drive. The newer camera systems allow for cloud storage and many do come with body cameras.  We are exploring camera systems based on their cost efficiency to operate," Miller said.  However, the RFI itself indicates a broader purpose in pursuing the cameras.  "Body cameras are necessary for Trooper protection as well as accurate and complete documentation," the document states.  The RFI is no guarantee the THP will move forward with purchasing body cameras.  The document states the agency will conduct demonstrations on some equipment in April.  In theory, the agency would still need to solicit bids for any body camera contract before it would equip troopers with the devices.  Outcry in recent years over the deaths of people — most often young black men — at the hands of police officers around the country has spurred an ongoing national debate about whether body cameras should be necessary for all law enforcement. Supporters say the cameras provide more accountability and protection for law enforcement, offering evidence to show exactly what happens.  Opponents say there are privacy and financial concerns with cameras, opening the door to new expenses and questions of information that should or can be released.  In Tennessee, only a few agencies are using the cameras.  A Tennessean review in November 2015 found the Knox County Sheriff's Office and police departments in Gallatin, Millersville and Memphis among the entities using or testing the cameras.  The Franklin Police Department has discussed using the cameras but officers are not yet equipped.  Most notably, Memphis police have the cameras but the roll-out of the program has been marred by controversy.  According to The Commercial Appeal, there have been allegations a representative from the company that makes the cameras bribed a city official, that the equipping of the cameras has gone slowly and the department's policies on how and when to use the cameras don't stack up with national standards.  Officers at every precinct were slated to be equipped with the cameras by November.  Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has promised to include funding for body cameras when she releases her proposed budget later this spring.  During a December forum, Nashville District Attorney Glen Funk cautioned the cameras are not a cure-all.  "As a trial lawyer, as a prosecutor, I'm all in favor of having additional evidence in cases," he said.  "But we've got to be careful about rushing headlong into this thinking it's going to cure all ills, even an ill that hasn't happened in Nashville and I pray never happens in Nashville."  In past years, Democrat state lawmakers have proposed bills that would require all law enforcement agencies to wear the cameras. Those bills have never gained much traction in the Tennessee General Assembly, and no similar bill had been filed as of Monday morning.

2/14/17

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