Minneapolis police officers are turning on their body cameras more than 80 percent of the time that they’re supposed to, a dramatic improvement over two months ago, the Police Department reported Thursday.
Police are linking the video to case numbers after nearly all calls, another major improvement, and the department is doing a better job of tracking body camera usage, bowing to pressure from the City Council over the past three months.
“I’m glad to see the MPD culture shifting to embrace the body camera use,” said Council Member Alondra Cano, chairwoman of the council’s public safety committee. “The trend is moving in the right direction. We still have some kinks to work out.”
Officers are still spotty about another requirement, narrating on video the reason they are switching off their body camera, but council members were largely pleased with a report they received at a meeting Thursday.
“It’s a reasonable reading of the data that we probably got video coverage of pretty much everything we’re supposed to,” Council Member Steve Fletcher said.
In February, officers failed to activate their body cameras nearly half of the time. Now that figure is less than 20 percent. They are tagging their video with the correct case number 95 percent of the time, compared with 70 percent at the end of 2017.
“I am very pleased with the progress that’s being demonstrated, and it is due in large part to a priority being placed by police leadership,” said Council Member Linea Palmisano, who headed up an audit of the body camera program last fall that found widespread failure to turn on the devices.
The new figures are based on a small sample size, the period of time after Chief Medaria Arradondo announced a body camera policy on April 4 with clearer consequences for noncompliance.
“Both times that we have revised the body camera policy in the last year, we have seen substantial improvements in compliance,” Arradondo said in a statement. “Our commitment to rebuilding trust between our department and the communities we serve does not end with these successes. We will continue to work with Mayor Frey and all stakeholders to revisit and improve the policy.”
Mayor Jacob Frey called the increased use of body cameras a “step forward” in improving the relationship between police and the public by emphasizing accountability.
“By removing ambiguity as to when body cameras must be activated and adding disciplinary measures for noncompliance, we have developed a stronger body camera policy — one that today’s numbers indicate will produce results both in the line of duty and for record keeping,” Frey said in a statement.