Three University of Minnesota campuses are exploring the possibility of adding body-cameras to their police forces, but questions still remain over how exactly they might be implemented.
The University of Minnesota is considering adding body cameras to their police officers on their Twin Cities, Duluth and Morris campuses. Proposed policies on how the body cameras would be used will be heard by the Board of Regents at a meeting this Thursday. A public forum will also to be held prior to their implementation as per a 2016 state law.
Considering Pilot Project
University spokesman Tim Busse expects the university to get the green light to move forward with body cameras once the forums and council meetings hammer out the specific details.
“We’re hoping to do the pilot project in the near future and we’re taking care of this now,” said Tim Busse, a university spokesman.
One current proposal that is being considered would allow campus police officers to review footage prior to writing their incident report. Both the Twin Cities and Duluth polices say that police “should” review footage prior to completing their report, and Morris police say they “may” review footage beforehand. As you might expect, that’s not sitting well with police watchdog groups like the ACLU or NAACP, who believe it gives police an unfair advantage when facts are in dispute. However, police groups suggest that reviewing footage beforehand will only serve to make their reports more accurate.
This has been a point of contention for some time. Last year, lawmakers were going to guarantee prior review of footage, but Governor Mark Dayton removed the provision prior to signing the bill. The bill he signed allows departments to decide on their own whether or not to review footage prior to writing their reports.
Have Your Voice Heard
Do you want your opinion on police body cameras and footage handling heard by the Board of Regents and others who will ultimately make the decisions? If you want to weigh in on the university’s body camera policies, sign up outside the west committee room at 600 McNamara Alumni Center between 1 and 1:45 p.m. on Thursday. You can also submit your thoughts via email by sending a correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org with either “body worn camera” or “BWC” in the subject line.