Body cams: Mpls. PD finishes rollout, more cities draft their own policies

Police throughout Minneapolis are now wearing body cameras.

As Minneapolis finishes rolling out body cameras to be worn by all its officers, more departments throughout the state are taking steps towards implementing their own body cam policies.

On Tuesday, the City of Minneapolis announced all five precincts now have body cameras. Then on Wednesday, the city said all officers who respond to 911 calls will be wearing them.

Both Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janee Harteau said they believe these devices will increase transparency and trust between officers and the public.

"These tools will eliminate some ‘he said, she said’ scenarios, which in turn, will lead to greater accountability for anyone involved in a police interaction," the chief said in a statement.

The City started working on implementing this policy over the summer, and the first batch of officer-worn cameras hit the streets in July.

Minneapolis police told GoMN over the summer that officers are instructed to use the cameras to record every traffic stop, arrest, chase, or response to a crime.

The recordings are saved for at least 90 days and they could be kept indefinitely, depending upon what’s on the tape.

If it’s just an officer learning to use the camera, the recording will be discarded after 90 days. Petty misdemeanors are kept
for a year. If the tape shows an arrest or an officer using force, the recording is saved for at least seven years.

Under a state law passed last year, footage from a body camera becomes public only when an officer uses force resulting in significant bodily harm.

Otherwise, only people who are pictured in a video are allowed to see it.

You can find the department’s full body camera policy here.

Body cams coming to other areas

The City of St. Paul has also been working on implementing body cameras. Late in October, the police department released a draft of the policy, which you can read here. Similarly to Minneapolis' policy, the public has been asked to review and comment on the draft.

Starting Wednesday, St. Paul police will launch a pilot program in the West District. Over the course of about 60 days, officials will test out different camera systems and practice handling all the data.

This week, Olmsted County Board approved the sheriff's office's request to start using body cameras. The sheriff's office posted to Facebook earlier this week that it will start purchasing and implementing the cameras in 2017.

Again, the public has asked to comment on a draft of the policy, which you can find here.

WCCO says least 40 police departments in Minnesota already use body cameras. Burnsville became the first in 2010.

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