The final public listening session on the use of police body cameras before their planned rollout next year in Minneapolis is scheduled for Saturday.
The Police Conduct Oversight Commission will listen to residents who want to share their opinions on when cameras should be turned off and on, restrictions on camera use, viewing of recordings and other policy issues that Minneapolis police say have been a large part of internal discussions around the emerging technology.
After requests from the media, Minneapolis police released a redacted report this week that detailed the results of the first four months of its body camera pilot in which cameras from Taser International were tested. Later, cameras from another company, Vievu, were also used.
“Body cameras can provide MPD an opportunity to actualize transparency and accountability,” the report said. “With strong policy, training, internal controls and a commitment to improve customer service, this new form of citizen interaction may provide the leverage to recover public trust.”
Over a few months of Taser body camera testing, officers recorded 4,933 videos and snapped 2,367 digital photos.
The goal was “to test what guidelines work, those that do not or rules which need improvement.”
Officers did not record their entire shift and used their own discretion in deciding when to turn the cameras on or off.
The officers were not required to tell residents that they were being recorded, though many did notify people and found that it moderated their behavior.
Still, the report showed that the program raised “significant concerns with privacy.”
The media and the public sought footage, requests that became difficult for the department to process quickly.
The department also faced several large requests for all public videos. Review of body camera video before it was released created a bottleneck in data requests, the report said.
The report noted that body cameras might create similar problems that police found with dashboard cameras. When the state started providing money for dashboard cameras, they were supposed to provide an accountability tool to combat perceived racial profiling in traffic stops.
However, the implementation of the dash cameras did not lead to a decrease in racial disparity of police contacts.
Besides just the privacy concerns and issues with the time-consuming process of reviewing video, Minneapolis Deputy Chief Travis Glampe also recently told the City Council that there was an issue with the availability of money. Currently, the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments as well as other agencies are competing for the same federal grant dollars for body cameras.
The Police Conduct Oversight Commission’s listening session will be held 10 a.m. Saturday at the Minneapolis Adult Education Center, Room 140, 2125 E. Lake St.