BURNSVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) — The Burnsville Police Department was the first law enforcement agency in the state to use body cameras when it started equipping officers with the technology last summer.
Officers credit the video tool for helping them capture a much better image of what is going on when they are out on the streets. They have also helped clear cases of allegations of police misconduct in a matter of minutes instead of several weeks.
Officer Shaun Anselment said he can’t imagine going out on patrol without his video tool.
“We are able to get the true emotions at the scene,” he said. “We are able to see what officers did, what suspects did.”
Anselment said he is happy to show video, which goes into a computer on his belt, to someone he has stopped for a traffic violation. In one case, a woman denied she ran a stop sign.
“I said, ‘Ma’am, here’s what happened.’ She apologized and went on her way,” he said.
The cameras, made by Taser, are usually worn on an officer’s hat or on a headband.
So far, about half of the 40 officers on the Burnsville force use body cameras. The police chief hopes to have all of his officers wearing them by the end of the year.
Since they started using body cameras, the department no longer uses dash cam equipment in their squads, which they say are much more expensive and don’t provide as good of view of a scene.
The Burnsville Fire Department is also looking to get their crews equipped with the cameras. Their interim chief, Dan Hove, said they played a big role in a recent fire at an apartment complex.
Officers on the scene with cameras were able to help them pinpoint the location of the fire and save critical time.
Several other Minnesota police agencies are also trying out the body cameras, including the Minnesota State Patrol.