Body Worn Cameras

January of 2018 marked the beginning of the police department’s development and implementation of a police officer body worn camera (BWC) program. The St. Anthony Police Department (SAPD) committed to Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Policy Development (2017) and the development of a Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program (PIP) (2018) with the hope and intention of reducing complaints against officers, enhancing evidence collection in order to improve the adjudication process, and building trust and increasing legitimacy in the communities we serve.

The use of BWC’s in law enforcement is relatively new in Minnesota. The primary purpose of using BWC’s is to capture evidence arising from police-citizen encounters. While this technology allows for the collection of valuable information, it opened up many questions about how to balance public demands for accountability and transparency with the privacy concerns of those being recorded. As an agency, we must strictly adhere to MN State Statute as it applies to law enforcement agencies that utilize portable recording systems for use in investigations, or in response to emergencies, incidents, and requests for service. In deciding what to record, policy must strike a balance between the desire to establish exacting and detailed requirements for BWC use and the reality that officers must attend to their primary duties and the safety of all concerned, often in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving.

Community-Oriented Policing (COP), as defined by the Department of Justice (DOJ) is “...a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.”[1] COP is a defining philosophy of the SAPD, is a lens through which all policing activities and strategies must pass, and the department strongly believes in the current research that shows that a BWC PIP supports a healthy COP approach.

The BWC PIP project required the integration of many components, to include: MN State Statute, Department Policy, Community/Stakeholder Input, User Input, BWC Grant Funding Requirements, Technology Integration, and Training and Auditing Requirements. Partnerships and collaborations were crucial to successfully completing the project.

The police department fully implemented our Panasonic BWC program as of November 9th, 2018. Officers of the St. Anthony Police Department have embraced this technology and have been diligent in following policy regarding deployment and use. Daily record management reviews are conducted to ensure equipment is being used properly. Department supervisors are required to complete monthly audits to ensure equipment is being used properly and in accordance with policy. Our squad cars have also been outfitted with new Panasonic HD squad cameras that are designed to pair with the BWC technology. We have now begun the last phase of our camera project by addressing upgrades to our facility camera system (January 2019). This will result in a fully integrated audio and video system that will allow for our staff to have audio/video coverage through multiple phases of contact with the public.

We must remain mindful that audio and video equipment is not a complete end-all do-all fix for capturing all aspects of police encounters with the public. People who have never seen a police officer’s everyday reality up close can easily overlook just how difficult it can be to face the everyday challenges associated with policing. In turn, we, as police officers, must adhere to the Pillars of Procedural Justice and Fair and Impartial Policing.

By and large our police officers have big hearts and a service mind set. They endeavor to serve to the best of their ability. The St. Anthony Police Department will remain committed to the goals and objectives outlined in our police department strategic plan. It will aid in focusing our resources, making data driven decisions and evaluating how we take inputs from community stakeholders and apply them with the goal to improve the overall quality of life by preserving the peace and safety of our community.

Respectfully submitted, Jon Mangseth, Police Chief

[1] U.S. Department of Justice/Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (2014). Community Policing Defined. Washington, DC.


Related Documents

Body Worn Camera Policy Public Hearing October 24, 2017
Staff Report
Appendices
Public Hearing Notice

Tri-City Body Camera Work Group