Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

St. Paul council OKs pilot program for police body cameras

Author:

St. Paul police officers will begin wearing body cameras next year after the City Council unanimously approved a pilot program for using the devices at its Wednesday meeting.

The measure instructs the police department to develop a plan and a budget for a body camera program this year, with a goal of starting the pilot project in 2016, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

The resolution says body cameras have been shown to "protect both police officers and community members by incentivizing both parties to reduce or eliminate the use of force," as well as preserve evidence from crime scenes, according to the Pioneer Press.

Council member Chris Tolbert, the co-sponsor, said having police record their interactions with citizens and suspects will improve the department's credibility and protect officers from false complaints of misconduct, KARE 11 reports.

Police in several Minnesota cities including Minneapolis, Duluth, Rochester and Burnsville have begun using body cameras in the last year or two, and the city of Hastings just approved its own pilot program this week as well.

Along with the perceived benefits of body cameras come concerns over who will be allowed to see the video footage. Each department so far is creating its own guidelines about when the videos should be released to the public or remain private, out of concern for citizens who may be filmed in intimate or embarrassing moments.

Council member Dan Bostrom, a former St. Paul police officer, told MPR News most officers don't object to wearing the body cameras, but he's concerned about releasing footage to the public that may include some disturbing content.

"A squad car vehicle, inside somebody's home or apartment, or ... a homicide scene that's the bloodiest, goriest thing you ever saw in your life, or beaten children, and those other kinds of things," Bostrom said. "Officers walk into those kinds of situations regularly."

A bill introduced in the Minnesota House would make the audio and video from police body cameras private data, which could only be accessed by law enforcement officers and anyone who is a subject in a video.

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

Next Up

Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook injured, Vikings drop crucial game against 49ers

The Vikings couldn't stop the Niners' rushing attack in a 34-26 loss.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man airlifted to a hospital after police shooting in Forest Lake

Police allege that the man presented a threat to officers.

Minnesota Wild

Wild's two third-period goals take down the Lightning

Ryan Hartman's go-ahead goal defeated the two-time defending champions.

Byron Buxton

Reports: Twins reach extension with Byron Buxton

The long-term deal locks in one of the Twins' franchise players.

Justin Jefferson

Vikings-49ers: 5 things you can count on

Sunday's matchup is a pivotal game in the NFC playoff picture.

Gopher Football

Watch: Gophers troll Badgers with 'Jump Around' after Saturday's win

First they took Paul Bunyan's Axe. Then they took their tradition.

Brandon Richart, missing person

Search underway for missing man in Anoka area

Brandon Richart was last seen Nov. 17.

U.S. Bank Stadium

5 teams win first state championships at Prep Bowl

A pair of records fell as the Prep Bowl lived up to the hype.

ashley Carlson

Remains of missing WI mom found in Pine County, MN

Ashley Miller-Carlson was 33 years old.

Related