MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (WCCO) — Maplewood Police is the latest department to roll out a body camera program. Before they do they are deciding on a policy.
“Right now is a time that we need to double down on trust, it’s a tough time for law enforcement in our country,” Police Chief Paul Schnell said.
And part of that, says Schnell, includes writing transparent policy that works. Officers will activate their cameras while answering all calls, they don’t have to let people know they are recording and they cannot edit or delete video.
What has sides divided is when officers can review video. They can watch the video to write a report unless involved in a critical incident.
“The general feeling is that officers should not watch that video, give their statement — what did you see, what did you feel, what did you sense, what was occurring as that was unfolding prior to the use of that force — and later they watch that video with investigators,” Schnell said.
Schnell invited representatives from the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information, ACLU and NAACP to weigh in on the proposed policy. They are groups with views sometimes contrary to the departments, and steadfast on their stance on reviewing video.
“Police officers have done fine without it for the last 150 years and if they’re competent and if they’re well-trained, we’d like to know what they thought, how they acted, what they did from their own perspective rather than based on a review of what the video demonstrates,” Yusef Mgeni, first vice president of NAACP St. Paul said.
The union that represents Maplewood officers wants them to be able to view video after any incident.
“It contributes to and supports the accuracy of the statements that are going to be given, the accuracy of reports that are written and the accuracy and the integrity and accuracy of the overall investigation,” Isaac Kaufman, general counsel for Law Enforcement Labor Service, Inc. said.
The department will determine its policy in the next month. Click here to view the proposed policy.