While the Tennessee attorney general is investigating whether District Attorney Glenn Funk’s office is violating wiretapping laws by recording conversations on its security cameras, new records show the DA’s office spent at least $32,000 on cameras since 2020 — some of which record audio.
Critics have questioned the legality of picking up conversations of employees and visitors without warning them about the audio monitoring.
DA Funk on the other hand, said the cameras with audio are a necessary part of office security and that “there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for conversations in public places,” News Channel 5 Nashville reported.
The DA’s office purchased at least some of the cameras with audio from vendor Southern Contracting.
Open The Books requested all Southern Contracting invoices to the DA’s office through a Tennessee Public Records Act, and were provided with 16 paid invoices between October 2020 and August 2021 totaling $32,000.
Two invoices explicitly charged for cameras with microphones, while other invoices show more cameras and other supportive equipment.
An Oct. 28, 2020, invoice from Southern Contracting for $1,960 states “DA office - install and program two 4-megapixel cameras with audio, one NVR with 4TB HDD and 24" HD monitor in undisclosed location.”
The “NVR with 4TB HDD” refer to a network video recorder (NVR) camera system with a 4-terabyte hard drive.
An invoice from Aug. 9, 2021, for $778 was to “provide and install a 5MEG Dome NDAA compliant with a built-in microphone.”
Six invoices totaling $4,179 had the descriptions for the service being performed or equipment being purchased redacted, making it unclear exactly how many cameras capable of recording audio were purchased.
All invoices are billed to Randall Ladd in the DA’s office.
Metro payroll records lists Ladd as special projects manager in the DA’s office, making $154,000. His LinkedIn says he’s director of operations.
A second invoice from Oct. 28, 2020, for $11,701 shows various details for replacing other cameras, including “Provide access from Randall’s desk to the NVRs.”
Reached for comment and provided copies of the invoices, Southern Contracting owner Jim Berryman denied that his company installed the cameras — even though several invoices used the word “install” including the two that were specifically for cameras with microphones.
He claimed his company did “just a couple of service calls on cameras” and wouldn’t answer further questions about the $32,000 worth of invoices that the DA’s office paid.
Tennessee AG Jonathan Skrmetti sent a Feb. 10 letter to DA Funk, notifying him of an investigation into whether the DA violated state criminal laws — including wiretapping laws, The Tennessean reported.
Funk responded to the AG’s letter, denying any wrongdoing.
“We have never conducted any unauthorized audio or video recording of any area where a person has a legitimate expectation of privacy," Funk said in the letter. "We know what the law allows and what the law prohibits."
The DA’s office didn’t respond to our request for comment by our deadline.