St. Paul Police Roll Out New Body Camera Program

September 13, 2017 02:21 PM

After a two-year pilot program, St. Paul is now the latest to join the ranks of  over 40 departments across the state recording police calls and community interactions with body cameras.

"Our philosophy … when in doubt, record," St. Paul Police Department Senior Commander Axel Henry said Tuesday.


Henry led the charge to study, train, and implement St. Paul's body camera program. Henry's biggest concern about the program is that it may cause witnesses to a crime shut down when they see they are being recorded.

RELATED: Minneapolis Body Cam Video Use Appears Low

However, Henry says the public overwhelmingly wanted to see cameras on the city's officers.

"It isn't the video that we record that's going to create the problem for use," he said. "It's those opportunities that happen when we could have recorded and failed to do so that creates some confusion."

St. Paul's policy goes further than many other cities' policies.

 Below are links to body camera policies at various departments in the state.

None of the policies dictate that the cameras always be on, rather that they must be on in certain circumstances. As you can see, the policies are similar.

A link to the Minnesota statute on body cameras can be found here. The law does not dictate body cam policies for departments. Further, the League of Minnesota Cities compiled a list of FAQs when the state law was added to the books in 2016.

The policy states, "This also helps document important information from a view closer to that of the officer's perspective."

Henry said the implementation of the policy was not due to any specific event. Instead, it was the push from the city's residents.

RELATED: Minnesota Shooting Shows Underuse of Police Body Cameras

"There isn't really anything that we're not willing to do if we think it's going to create good relationships with our community," he said. "If this camera is a part of that, we're happy to do it."

Some departments have had concerns about the amount of data they would be able to store. St. Paul police say this is not a concern, as they have created a unit dedicated solely to storing and retrieving body camera data.


Katherine Johnson

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