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'Symbol of trust': Ramsey Co. sheriff rolls out body cams

It's the third largest Minnesota law enforcement agency to do so.

The Ramsey County Sheriff's Department is going all in on body cameras.

On Friday, Sheriff Bob Fletcher officially rolled out the devices, calling them a "symbol of trust."

During a press conference, Fletcher said the new policy is the result of "six months of work," which included meeting with and getting the support of community members in implementing the new program.

He acknowledged the need for increased transparency and better communication between law enforcement and citizens. 

"It's no secret that there are those in our community that aren't sure that they can trust law enforcement," he said, adding that introducing body cams "helps make that easier."

He also alluded to the role they'll play in documenting police confrontations, referring to the recent police shooting of Ronald Davis in St. Paul as a "classic example" of how cameras were able to "quickly resolve what the facts were."

In that case, the body cam footage shows Davis attacking the officer — who then appears to fire in self-defense, despite allegations that he had murdered Davis.

But Fletcher made clear that the devices won't just be used in instances of deadly force.

"Day in, day out, this is about how we relate with others in the community," he said, describing the cameras as a tool to improve communication and hold both authorities and citizens accountable.

Fletcher also said that deputies will be required to activate the devices at the time they receive a call, or if they "come upon something... that needs action."

However, activation isn't required in "incidental contact with citizens."

If you're curious about how the department's body cam program works, and what it requires deputies to do, you can read the full policy right here

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