Should the public be able to see what's recorded on police body cameras?


Body cameras are being introduced to police officers more and more frequently across the state of Minnesota.

But who should get to see or hear what's recorded?

A bill introduced in the House on Thursday offers its own answer: Not the public.

Right now however, the footage is considered public under state law.

And so begins the debate over how to police the police body cameras.

The bill: Data would remain private

Rep. Tony Cornish, a Republican who represents Vernon Center, is one of the three lawmakers with ties to law enforcement who authored the bill. (Click here to read it in full.)

Very simply, the bill would make the audio and video from police body cameras private data. The only people who could access it are investigators (or other law enforcement members) and anyone who is a subject in the video.

The reasoning, Cornish said according to the Associated Press, was to protect individuals who are recorded.

"You could have a half naked housewife that's been beat up with a bloody face, half naked kids running around," he said. "You could have a gun collection. That information needs to remain private."

In addition, recorded data must be destroyed within 90 days if it isn't part of an open investigation.

Opponents: Then what's the point of body cameras?

Police body cameras are often portrayed as the next step in transparency, a safeguard in the wake of increased tensions between officers and the public.

Groups that are against the bill say restricting public access to the video runs counter to what the use of cameras is supposed to achieve: transparency and accountability.

Ben Feist with the ACLU of Minnesota said by making it nonpublic data, "the whole idea that we are able to use the body cameras to watch the police ... really falls by the wayside," MPR reports.

The Star Tribune spoke with Matt Ehling with the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information, who said a lot of the sensitive video would be considered classified under current state law anyway.

Where does the bill go from here?

The bill is in its infant stages.

It was introduced in the House, and the 13-member Civil Law and Data Practices Committee will debate it. If it passes there, it could get moved up to the full House for a larger vote.

Still, there is no similar or companion bill on the Senate side – meaning even if it passed the House, a lot of work would have to be done in the other chamber before it got to Gov. Mark Dayton's desk.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-10-15 at 10.01.55 PM

Large police presence at Emagine Willow Creek movie theater in Plymouth

There are few details at this stage as to what has happened.

Maple Grove Police Department

Maple Grove-based businessman convicted of fatally shooting wife

Wiseman owns properties in both Minnesota, Nevada and China.

betty and earls biscuits facebook

Jason Matheson's biscuit shop to briefly close ahead of relaunch

Betty & Earl's will shut down for two weeks before reopening under a new name.

Simon Merino Go Fund Me

Worker dies in forklift accident at paper recycling business

The victim was described as a loving father of two who was devoted to his church.

rosie means - go fund me

Authorities ID woman killed by hit-and-run driver who ran red light

A fundraiser was created to support the family after the "sudden and senseless loss."

Prior Lake Football

Watch: Prior Lake stuns Rosemount with last-second hook and ladder

The Lakers dusted off an old favorite to get a victory on Thursday night.

unsplas - maple leaf frost fall lawn

MN gets its first frost advisories, freeze warnings of the season

The coldest spots could dip to below 30 degrees overnight.


Ahead of Big Ten clash, Huskers fans spend their Friday mocking PJ Fleck

Huskers fans are in a playful mood ahead of Saturday's game.

Jamal Smith

New 1st-degree murder charge for man accused in youth coach's killing

A grand jury indicted the suspect in connection with the shooting of Jay Boughton.

trick or treating halloween

COVID: Mayo Clinic's tips for staying safe while trick-or-treating

A layered approach, especially for those who aren't vaccinated, is recommended.


'My patience level is gone': Walz calls on lawmakers to help hospital strain

The governor said only legislators can enact some of the needed measures.