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City seeks police body camera proposals

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: April 24, 2014 - 3:43 PM

Plans to outfit Minneapolis cops with body cameras are taking shape as the city takes its first steps to identify a contractor.

A request for proposals, released Thursday afternoon, says the city plans to test and evaluate services from multiple vendors in different precincts before making a final determination. Last year, Mayor Betsy Hodges pushed successfully to include $400,000 in this year's budget for the project.

The issue first arose in October 2013, when Hodges and two other council members proposed the body cameras partly as a method for stemming police brutality. Several cities across the country are already using the devices, including Burnsville, Minn.

The request seeks proposals by May 21. The city will conduct a field test and evaluation in three police precincts for at least six months.

The city is seeking cameras that record both audio and video, can be mounted in multiple ways (including on a helmet), and can be worn extreme weather including temperatures as low as -5 degrees. Officers must be able to activate the cameras with a single switch or button.

Notably, the device also cannot have the capability of editing or deleting the original video file.

A separate storage system must allow users to search recordings by name, date, event or case number. The storage system must be accessible throughout the police department and at any MPD workstation, though footage will be restricted through a series of roles and permissions. The storage system should also generate an audit trail for all user activity.

Some research into the cameras has shown that the reduce complaints and use of force. But other questions remain, such as when the cameras are activated and who gets recorded (like tipsters who would rather remain anonymous).

Photo: Burnsville police chief Eric Gieseke showed how one of the original body camera's several police officers on the Burnsville Police Department wear on patrol on Monday, October 21, 2013, in Burnsville, Minn. The camera is worn on the head and has a screen which attached to the belt. This is the third year the Burnsville Police Department has used these body cameras. (Renee Jones Schneider)

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