Metro Transit Police could begin wearing body cameras in 2020, adding to the growing list of departments that outfit officers with the devices.
The Metropolitan Council, which oversees Metro Transit, is taking public comment on the proposal that would equip officers with body cameras that would enhance public safety, spokesman John Schadl said in a statement.
The effort comes after a year of rising crime on the Twin Cities light-rail system. Serious crimes like aggravated assault, theft and robbery went up by at least 35% in 2019.
If approved, the cameras are intended to "enhance police-community relations, decrease complaints against officers, and assist in successful prosecution of crimes," according to the proposal the council is considering.
All officers would be required to wear body cameras when in uniform and on duty, though the police chief could make exceptions in special cases, the proposal says. Equipment tests should be done at the start of each officer's shift.
Video recordings would be retained for different lengths of time depending on what they show, from 90 days for a traffic stop without a citation to 25 years for a death, according to the proposal.
Other metro departments, including Minneapolis and St. Paul police, already use body cameras. But the devices remain controversial.
The Minneapolis Police Department initially struggled to get officers to turn on cameras when they began rolling them out in 2016. After an internal audit showed that officers frequently left body cameras off while on duty, compliance with policies increased. Officer use reached 90% in early 2019.
New Metro Transit Police Chief Eddie Frizell joined the department after a 26-year career with Minneapolis Police.
The Met Council will hear public comment on the body camera proposal at a meeting Jan. 8; comments may also be submitted online until Jan. 30. Final consideration of the proposal is expected in early 2020.
"Once we have policy in place we will begin purchasing the equipment necessary to implement it," Schadl said in a statement.