Officers with the Duluth Police Department are now outfitted with body-mounted cameras, the Duluth News Tribune reports.
Duluth police officers won't be required to keep the device on at all times, WDIO reports. Instead, they'll be required to turn the camera on and begin recording before any interaction with a person., the station says. The video will then be uploaded, WDIO explains, but won't be randomly reviewed unless there's a complaint against the officer or some other legal reason to do so.
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Footage cannot be edited or deleted from the body camera, Northland's News Center notes. The News Tribune says recording is activated with a large button on the device, and everything that gets recorded is automatically uploaded to cloud storage when the officer plugs in the device at the end of their shift.
Sgt. Jayme Carlson told Northland's News Center that, while the cost may seem high now, the department expects money to be saved on the back end – less time in court, and less time investigating the incident, for example, because everything will simply be on camera.
The department bought 97 of the devices (enough for all uniformed officers) for about $300 apiece the News Tribune reports, which it took from the $80,000 or so it had in the budget to launch the program.
According to the manufacturer's site, the Taser Axon body cameras have a 130-degree field of vision, offer a battery life of 12-plus hours (meaning a full shift can technically be covered), and can function anywhere from negative 4 degrees to 122 degrees. Here's an example video uploaded by the Taser company.
Police body cameras in Minnesota
The Minneapolis Police Department could be next in line.
Earlier this year, it was reported the city's police would begin testing body cameras this summer – and once the details were ironed, they'd be on hundreds of police officers in Minneapolis.
Last December, in an effort to reduce complaints of misconduct and police brutality, the Minneapolis City Council approved $400,000 to outfit two-thirds of the city’s police force with body cameras. Proponents say the cameras – which can be attached to uniforms, hats or glasses to capture the perspective of an officer – could save the city money in unnecessary litigation fees from false allegations of police wrongdoing.