The Police Conduct Oversight Commission enthusiastically endorsed a series of recommendations Tuesday night regarding the use of body-mounted cameras by Minneapolis police officers.
The oversight group voted unanimously in support of the report.
Police Chief Janeé Harteau, who has remained mostly quiet about the report, said Tuesday that her department would take the report’s findings under consideration as it continues to craft its body camera policy.
The recommendations are considered nonbinding.
“I believe public input is an important part of the process as we work toward developing a body camera policy,” Harteau said in a statement through a spokesman. “We will take the research and study into account while continuing to analyze dozens of other policies and national ‘best practice’ standards. Our goal is to put together a policy that works best for Minneapolis.”
The report’s key recommendations include: requiring patrol officers to activate their cameras during all service calls, law enforcement activities and any noncriminal encounters with a citizen, as long as they receive consent; and barring officers from editing or viewing body camera footage before writing their incident reports under most circumstances.
The police killings last year of several unarmed black men across the country intensified the campaign to make body cameras mandatory. In Minnesota, at least 41 law enforcement agencies have adopted the devices, though research findings on their effectiveness in keeping both police and the public on their best behavior has been mixed.
Among the tricky issues the department will have to grapple with, one is whether the footage should be released under the state’s public information act, with opponents contending that doing so could infringe on privacy or victims’ rights.
The state Legislature adjourned this year without a uniform statewide resolution on the matter, but proponents say that legislators took significant steps toward enacting such a measure next year.
The MPD recently concluded its monthslong pilot program, during which 36 officers from three precincts tested the diminutive cameras while out on patrol. Minneapolis officials are expected to pick a vendor later this fall, and a full department rollout is expected in early 2016.
The city has set aside about $1.1 million for the body camera program, and has applied for a $600,000 federal grant to help defray costs.
Minneapolis police Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the police officers union, who has backed the cameras in the past, said Tuesday he was disappointed with the report.
“We’re basing [the report] off 39 written comments; we don’t know the qualifications of these people,” he said, referring to the public comments used to formulate the recommendations. “Would you want me to go to a doctor’s office” and do his or her job?
Requiring SWAT members to record their missions could compromise their safety by revealing some of their tactics, Kroll said.
He added: “This is a criminal’s dream.”