Police body camera program set to launch in May


A City Council committee has given city leaders a green light to execute a five-year, $4 million contract with Taser International for police body cameras.

The police department will start rolling out the body camera program in mid-May, starting with the 1st Precinct (downtown neighborhoods), said Deputy Chief Travis Glampe.

The program will be fully up and running by late fall.

The full Council will consider the contract Feb. 26. It allows for the purchase of 587 body cameras, docking stations and storage, among other things.

The U.S. Department of Justice also recently awarded the city $600,000 to help fund the body camera program.

Thirty-six police officers tested out body cameras made by Taser International and VIEVU during a pilot project in 2015.

Police departments around the country have launched body camera programs to help prevent false claims of police misconduct and make officers more accountable.

The Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission forwarded recommendations on the use of police body cameras to Police Chief Janeé Harteau in October. They include barring supervisors from reviewing footage of direct reports; notifying video subjects when videos have been made public pursuant to a data practices request; and seeking an academic institution to study the use of the body cameras for the program’s first two years.

The commission also recommended that cameras be turned on for all “consensual community contacts,” calls for service and law enforcement activities and turned off when officers are interviewing a confidential informant.

City Council members questioned whether the MPD was ready to handle requests for body camera footage. Currently the budget covers two employees who will oversee data requests.

Glampe said the department plans to release its proposed body camera policy in a few weeks and will seek input from the public.

The Council committee also passed a staff direction authored by Council Member Cam Gordon (Ward 2) calling on the MPD to present a plan for community engagement and outreach on the proposed body camera policy to the committee on March 2 and a final policy no later than April 6.