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The department’s newest camera, from Taser, is worn on the officer’s chest. It has enough battery life to last an extended shift. The officer starts the camera by pushing a big button on the front. The camera keeps a 30-second buffer of video at all times, so each recording starts 30 seconds before the officer presses the button to make sure they don’t miss the start of an incident.
Gieseke said state law doesn’t require the officers to tell people they’re being recorded. Sometimes people will call saying they want to file a complaint against the department, but when they learn that their encounter with an officer is on video, they never show up to file the complaint.
Burnsville officer Shaun Anselment said it’s sometimes a good strategy to announce the camera. “It can calm people down and put them on their best behavior,” he said.
Body cameras got another vote of approval earlier this month when the American Civil Liberties Union broke with its past criticisms of public video surveillance to say proper use of police body cameras benefits everyone.
“We know that the complaints go down and the uses of force go down,” said Greenwood, the ACLU lawyer. He pointed to an oft-cited study of officers in Rialto, Calif., as his proof. A larger study being conducted in Florida has shown similar, though preliminary, results, he said.
The ACLU distributed a policy paper earlier this month that dictates how they think police departments should use the cameras, but whatever gets decided, Greenwood said, one thing is clear: “We are going to start seeing very large agencies implementing this technology in the very near future. It is absolutely inevitable.”
Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747