Skip to main content

State agency rejects police request to keep most body camera footage private

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Minnesota state officials have rejected a call from police chiefs around the state to keep private most of the data recorded by police body cameras.

A group of about 18 law enforcement agencies had made the request a few weeks ago. They expressed concerns that making the video footage public could violate the privacy of people who interact with police, noting that many would be filmed in sensitive situations.

Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell spearheaded the request, saying he's also concerned about the possibility that video footage could be posted on social media sites or used to intimidate people, MPR News notes.

Administration Commissioner Mark Massman rejected the request Monday, saying he doesn't have the authority to act on the matter. That's because state privacy laws currently consider the footage public records, similar to written police reports, according to the Associated Press.

It's in the Legislature's hands

As the Star Tribune notes, Massman did agree that the privacy issues need to be addressed. However, he said the only way to do that right now is to make the case to legislators that a new law is needed to regulate the use of body cameras and the footage they record.

"The application clearly demonstrates both the national and statewide significance of these issues, ones that can only be fully addressed through the legislative process," Massman wrote. (Read his entire ruling, posted by the Star Tribune)

A bill introduced in the Legislature last session would have kept most body-camera video private, but it didn't advance very far. A similar measure is expected to be debated again next year.

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.

Proponents of that transparency say restricting public access to the video runs counter to what the use of cameras is supposed to achieve: transparency and accountability for law enforcement.

Next steps

Even while the privacy debate continues, more law enforcement agencies in Minnesota and around the country are equipping their officers with the small devices. Just last week, the federal government announced it was giving three Minnesota cities grant money to implement body camera programs.

Minneapolis and St. Paul were awarded $600,000 each, while the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe received $41,967.

The grant money will be used to purchase cameras, train officers on their use, and examine their impact. Each agency awarded a grant is also required to develop a plan for long-term storage, including the cost of storing data from the cameras.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Lost 1-year-old reunited with parents in Brooklyn Park

The girl was found by a concerned citizen around 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Screen Shot 2020-12-27 at 8.33.49 AM

For 2nd time, Minnesota farm devastated by deadly fire

Around 1,000 goats and a litter of puppies were killed when a barn caught fire on Friday.

ambulance

Fleeing suspect crashes, killing innocent driver in Brooklyn Park

The suspect fled police in Osseo and was going south on County Road 81.

1497 S Ferry St, Anoka, MN 55303, United States - August 2021

Body found tangled with debris in the Mississippi River

The individual's name has not yet been released.

Northtown Mall Carnival

Around 100 kids run from carnival fight into Northtown Mall

Police say a large fight was happening on the ferris wheel before kids fled into the mall.

Screen Shot 2021-05-27 at 9.29.03 AM

Former state senator Scott Jensen endorsed by GOP for governor

Jensen beat to multiple other hopefuls for the endorsement at Saturday's convention.

storm

NWS already monitoring Thursday for severe weather in MN

Monday-Wednesday should be fantastic weather in Minnesota.

MissingMankatoWomanSideBySide

Body of missing Mankato woman believed to have been found

A canoer found the body in a swamp near Eagle Lake Friday.

kim crockett facebook sos

MN GOP endorses attorney general, secretary of state candidates

Kim Crockett was endorsed as the party's candidate for secretary of state, while Jim Schultz won the endorsement for attorney general.

FSmb9kkWAB0UBqk

Volunteer firefighter identified as man killed during Thursday storms

The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office confirmed that 63-year-old Ryan Erickson died when a grain bin fell on him.

Juan Ramos, standing outside of his Taco Chon Mexican Grill, in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Firm takes on case defending Taco Chon against Taco John's lawsuit

The local Mexican restaurant is fighting a case presented by Taco John's over naming rights, among other things.

Related