Changes are coming to the Minneapolis Police Department's body camera policy

Officers will soon have to turn on their body cams for every call.

Minneapolis police officers will be required to turn on their body cameras whenever they're on their way to a call or whenever they interact with someone, acting Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said at a news conference Wednesday.

This change in the police department's body camera policy comes after Justine Damond was fatally shot by Minneapolis police. Officers did not have their body cameras turned on during the July 15 incident.

Former Police Chief Janeé Harteau said afterward the cameras shouldn't have been off.

"What good is a camera if it is not being used when it may be needed the most?" Arradondo said at the news conference. 

During the news conference, Arradondo and Mayor Betsy Hodges acknowledged that some officers haven't been using their body cameras enough, while others have been using them as they're supposed to be. 

Arradondo also noted changes to the body camera policy have been ongoing since the program began eight months ago.

The new rules kick in Saturday.

Details on the new policy

This document shows the changes made between the old policy and the new policy. The underlined parts are new, while the parts that have a strikethrough have been removed (most of the new stuff starts on page 8). 

The main change to the policy comes with when officers are required to activate their camera. It includes: 

  • When they start going to a call for service they're dispatched to. 
  • When self-initiating a call (and the camera should be turned on before contacting a person or getting out of their squad car).
  • Before taking any law enforcement action. 
  • Before making investigatory contact. 
  • When any situation becomes adversarial. 
  • Before helping a person (this doesn't include basic help for a person, like giving directions). 
  • When a supervisor tells the officer to turn on their camera. 

The policy gives specific examples of what these look like. Most of the scenarios were in the old rules, such as for traffic stops, use of force situations, and any verbal or physical confrontation.

But a new example has been added: "Any contact involving allegations of criminal activity, suspicious behavior or unlawful behavior. This includes any contact with a reporting person, victim, suspect or witness."

Damond was killed after calling police to report a possible sexual assault.

Auto-activation technology is coming

Arradondo also said at the news conference that auto-activation technology is being added to the department's squad cars. Once it's live, whenever an officer turns on the lights and siren, their body cameras will also turn on automatically. 

It'll take a couple months for all the squad vehicles to be set up with this technology, and the department said the feature won't be turned on until all the squads have it. 

Currently, officer's have to manually turn on their body cameras.

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