How do you feel about police body cams in St. Paul? Take this survey


Police body cameras are a hotly debated issue across the nation, which might be why St. Paul Police are asking residents to share their thoughts on the devices via a new online survey.

The questionnaire, posted on SurveyMonkey on Tuesday, comes as the department prepares to launch a recently approved pilot program that will arm St. Paul cops with the cameras next year.

As the Pioneer Press points out, the devices have become an important part of the national conversation on police conduct following "violent incidents" between cops and civilians (like the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland).

Proponents of the body cams say they've been shown to protect officers and the people they deal with "by incentivizing both parties to reduce or eliminate the use of force,” and could also provide important evidence from crime scenes.

But there are privacy concerns over how the footage that police record will be handled and stored, and who should be able to view it – a number of Minnesota police chiefs recently asked Governor Dayton to limit public access to the body cam videos.

Body cams in Minnesota

The 15-question St. Paul survey mainly focuses on how residents feel about body cameras, and whether or not they believe they would be effective in improving community trust in law enforcement.

Some questions also ask respondents if they think the images recorded should be kept private, or open to members of the public.

The survey seems to have its critics, however.

The Pioneer Press noted worries that the questions are steering the public conversation toward the privacy issue, though a police representative told the paper the questionnaire "isn't meant to incite privacy fears, but to have community participation."

Despite the ongoing debate, the devices are in use in several Minnesota cities, including Duluth, Rochester and Burnsville, while Hastings approved its own pilot program a few months ago.

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, police are set to strap on the cams next year.

According to Kare 11, a recent public hearing on the program found most of the citizens in attendance think Minneapolis officers should wear the devices to increase transparency and accountability, though some have reservations over the cost of the system.

Next Up

st. paul winter carnival ice sculpture

3 winter festivals in the Twin Cities this weekend

The Great Northern, The City of Lakes Loppet and St. Paul Winter Carnival are all underway.

police lights

Suspect led deputies on 23-mile chase, hid in the woods

The suspect was arrested after a few hours hiding in a wooded area in Meeker County.

Kirk Cousins

Coller: Will the Vikings be the only ones left with QB stability in the NFC?

Matthew Coller writes a weekly Vikings column for BMTN, with more of his work found at Purple Insider.

La Velle E. Neal III

Twins reporter La Velle E. Neal III to become Star Tribune sports columnist

The long-serving Twins reporter has received a promotion.


State Patrol investigating fatal crash near Duluth

The crash was reported around 6:15 a.m. Wednesday.

eden prairie police squad car

Carjacking reported outside shopping center in Eden Prairie

One of the suspects reportedly displayed a weapon.

court gavel

8 people charged in Medicaid fraud scheme totaling $860K

Collectively, they're charged with 46 counts of felony theft.


Minnesota gets mixed grades on its tobacco report card

In Minnesota, the economic cost due to smoking is $2.519 million with 5,910 deaths per year attributed to smoking.

Hardy Wills-Traxler

Charges: Man stabbed his father, set his home on fire

The 25-year-old has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree arson.

Impound lot

Crowded impound lot raises COVID concerns after Minneapolis snow emergency

A vehicle owner complains about the tightly-packed impound lot following the weekend's snow.