The Police Conduct Oversight Commission held its first of three Listening Sessions last Saturday, in order to gauge public opinion on the Minneapolis Police Department’s body camera use and policy. The session began with a welcome from Commission Chair Andrea Brown, followed by a short video showing body camera footage from the pilot program that began last year, in addition to questions about body camera policy.
The video contained 5 main topics of body camera policy: activation, deactivation, restrictions, notification, and viewing. Questions regarding those topics included: When should an officer activate a camera? Are there activities that should not be recorded? Should an officer deactivate a camera upon request by a civilian? And should an officer be able to view body camera footage before writing a report on an incident?
The video was followed by a small group discussion session, where community members were asked to discuss body camera policy amongst themselves and with Commissioners who circulated amongst the small groups. Following these discussions, the Commission opened the floor to public feedback. Community members then shared their comments one-by-one before the Commission. In total, 12 community members formally spoke at the session. All feedback will be included in the Commission’s body camera final report. The discussion focused primarily on how body cameras would be used, and their ability to increase accountability and transparency in police/community interactions.
During the feedback session, one community member shared his experience of being racially profiled and how he believes that body cameras could prevent such experiences happening to others. Multiple speakers noted a desire for officers to keep cameras on as much as possible, so as to avoid the possibility of an officer turning a camera off before committing an act of police misconduct. Additionally, there was a focus on cameras protecting the community from police misconduct, but also protecting police from false accusations of misconduct. But not all attendees were on board with body camera use; one community member expressed frustration and viewed body cameras as an expensive new “gadget” diverting attention from the issue of needing better police policies and accountability overall. Almost all speakers noted that if body cameras are to be implemented, there needs to be a comprehensive policy, with special attention paid to the details.
Attendees were invited to submit a door poll asking Should the Minneapolis Police Department use body cameras? Of those polled at this listening session, 82% of respondents answered Yes.
Multiple media sources were in attendance and the session was reported heavily in local news. See some of the videos and articles:
CBS: Minneapolis Police Dept. Holds Public Hearing On Body Cameras
Fox 9: First public discussion on Minneapolis police body cameras
Kare 11: Mpls. residents speak up about police body cameras
KSTP: Public Input Sought Before Minneapolis Police Hit Streets with Body Cams
MPR: Minneapolis residents speak up about police body cameras
Winona Daily News: Minneapolis residents speak up about police body cameras
Interested in getting involved?
For more information on body cameras and the MPD, please see the materials provided at the Listening Session:
- Listening Session 1 Agenda
- Body Camera Policy
- Body Camera Video Slides
- Door Poll
- Public Access to Body Camera Footage Note
- Body Camera Video
Please also attend an upcoming listening session, the next of which is scheduled for July 11th at 10:00am at Sabathani Community Center. See the Listening Session 2 Flyer. The third listening session is scheduled for July 25th, time and location to be announced. Or email any comments on body cameras to firstname.lastname@example.org.