St. Paul police officers recorded more than 19,000 hours of body-camera footage in the first three months of the year, according to information the department released Tuesday.
A review of some of the footage showed room for improvement in terms of officer compliance, but overall results were encouraging, police Chief Todd Axtell said about the department's use of the devices, which started rolling out late last year.
"Some of the common mistakes that we observed through these audits include — more so early on — officers forgetting to turn their cameras on," Axtell said. "Repetition will improve this."
Axtell released the audit's results Tuesday ahead of a presentation about it scheduled for Wednesday's City Council meeting.
Asked if the audit led to any internal affairs investigations into officers' actions, changes in criminal investigations or other action, police spokesman Sgt. Mike Ernster said it was "solely focused on the policy and compliance."
Longtime public data activist Don Gemberling said the department should have also looked at what the cameras captured, including officer conduct.
"These things are sold on two major objectives," Gemberling said of body cameras. "They'll make police officers more accountable … And number two, they'll make people act a little better when they're interacting with cops.
"Hopefully managers are using [body-camera footage] to correct [officers'] behavior, because that was objective number one to selling this to the world and Minnesota."
Ernster said supervisors who regularly review body-camera videos will identify performance issues and address them when necessary. He could not recall whether any reviews have resulted in such action.
According to police: Officers recorded a total of 87,544 videos that captured 19,781 hours of footage. Of those videos, 2,477 were reviewed in part by supervisors and investigators as part of their daily duties.
The department's Body Worn Camera Review Committee watched another 72 videos in their entirety to evaluate "quality control, challenges associated with using the new technology and overall compliance," the department said.
Of the 72 videos, 71 were properly categorized, 69 included a 30-second buffer that is supposed to automatically record before an officer turns on their camera and 68 videos included a correct case number.
The committee reviews 24 randomly selected videos in their entirety each month to track trends, training issues and areas of improvement.
Axtell said some of the noncompliance issues were due to typing errors and mechanical problems.
All videos involving use of force are reviewed, the chief said, and the department's technology unit audits videos of all traffic stops and burglary calls.
Axtell said that starting in the second quarter, the department also began reviewing all videos for K-9 calls and motor vehicle crashes involving pedestrians or bicycles.