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Ramsey County Sheriff makes unprecedented proposal for corrections officers to wear body-worn cameras

March 26, 2019 10:24 PM

It's a first in Minnesota.

Corrections officers wearing body-worn cameras.  

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It's a priority according to Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher.

"This is going to be groundbreaking to have body cameras in jail," Fletcher said on Tuesday.

County Commissioner Trista Matas Castillo explained why the timeline to buy a system needed to be moved up.

"I think our video footage from the incident in 2016 indicates why we should have footage," Castillo said. "I would have real concerns about not using body cams in the detention facility."


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In 2016, a wall-mounted camera inside the facility recorded a Ramsey County deputy punching a suspect handcuffed to a chair, while other deputies stood by during the incident. The deputy is no longer employed by Ramsey County.

"It is my intention to have everyone wearing one of these cameras," said Fletcher.

The proposal unveiled Tuesday at the monthly meeting of county leaders would cost $3.5 million over three years to buy 400 devices, including hardware and installation. The cost to store the data and retrieve it is extra. 

Fletcher explained how the chest-mounted technology would document what the jailers see while they are performing their duties and he believes would improve the safety of officers and inmates.

"Our intention is to have body cameras on whenever a correctional officer is in contact with an inmate; they will help when there's a conflict," said Fletcher. Meaning, the footage could be video evidence in a case, if needed. 

"This is part of transparency and accountability."

Fletcher hopes to buy the equipment in May and have patrol deputies, corrections officers and security guards at the courthouse wear them by July. 

Ashley Figueroa stopped by the Adult Detention Center Tuesday only long enough to pick up belongings she left behind after being arrested for an outstanding warrant. She believes they would hold people wearing a jumpsuit (or a badge) accountable.

"The way they portray themselves outside is way different than what they are behind closed doors," Figueroa said.

County Commissioners asked how policy would be formed on when the cameras would be required to be on, how long the data would be retained, what footage would be considered public data or private data and why would contract cities be required to pitch in. Ramsey County has the contract to provide police services to seven communities, including Little Canada, North Oaks, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Falcon Heights, Vadnais Heights and White Bear Township. Fletcher said he planned to ask them for financial assistance. 

Also, a series of communities will be held in April and May to gather input from the public. 

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Credits

Beth McDonough

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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