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Minneapolis starts rolling out body cameras to all patrol officers

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Minneapolis police are starting to roll out body cameras to record officers' interactions on the job.

About 100 officers in the downtown 1st Precinct got cameras earlier this month. And sometime within the next few weeks, officers in the 4th Precinct will also be wearing them, according to a Minneapolis PD news release.

Next, the 3rd Precinct will get them, then the 2nd and 5th, Public Information Officer Scott Seroka told BringMeTheNews.

Earlier this year, the city approved a contract to have all patrol officers – more than 500 – wear a camera by October, and Seroka told BringMeTheNews they're on track to hit that deadline.

Before putting the cameras into action, the police department released a draft of the policy and asked the public to comment and make suggestions.

A couple months after that, Gov. Mark Dayton signed a controversial bill that makes most body camera footage private.

Exceptions would be made in cases that resulted in great bodily harm – in those cases, the footage would be made public.

What the cameras will and won't do

Police say camera equipment has several purposes, including capturing evidence for court cases, helping officers recall facts for reports, helping with training, and assessing officer interactions.

The initial draft reiterated that cameras are not meant for officer surveillance. However, the footage may be used as evidence if complaints are made about an officer.

Officials also hope the cameras will build up the public’s trust in the department, because it will no longer be the victim's word against a cop's. There will be actual footage of what happened.

According to the latest policy, the cameras need to be on: anytime a person is stopped, during vehicle pursuits, emergency responses, searches, criminal and confrontational contact, and prior to using any force.

The cameras need to be activated manually, by the officer wearing it, whenever one of those situations comes up. They are not automatically on during an officer's entire shift.

Footage will typically be stored for one year. The data will be stored for seven years if the footage shows an arrest or misdemeanor citation, and anytime force is used.

Footage of any "significant event" will be kept for at least seven years, possibly longer.

Storing all that information isn't cheap either.

The police department previously said the cost of storing data for each officer will be around $90 a month. That's in addition to the cost of each camera, which is about $400.

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