MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minneapolis is latest city in Minnesota to put body cameras on police officers.

The pilot program will run for the next several months.

The MPD hopes to have all officers wearing body cameras by late next year.

Studies have shown the use of the cameras decreases the number of complaints against officers, but the program does have its critics.

The department hopes the use of body cameras will protect its officers from false and frivolous claims as well as help build trust in communities where there is a strained relationship with police.

Officers will began wearing and testing two versions of the camera to decide which will work best in a cold weather climate.

“Today we start with 36 officers in the first, third and fourth precincts, “ said Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau.

These officers will be part of a pilot program designed to determine the most effective use of the new tool.

“One of the purposes of the pilot and the testing period is to determine best practices of the permanent policy–what it should look like when we are in full implementation,” Harteau said.

Harteau said the standard operating procedures for body cameras are fluid.

The department will do all it can to make sure the rights of the people they serve are protected.

“We fully understand the need to balance privacy concerns versus the need to record events on video,” Harteau said.

Officers will have the discretion to choose when the cameras are used.

MPD relied on studies from the Department of Justice and Minnesota towns that use body cameras, like Bloomington and Duluth, for guidance on when officers should activate them.

“It brings increased accountability and transparency for both the police officers and the public moving forward,” said Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.

The program is designed to keep police and the public honest, but there are critics.

Some are concerned that officers have discretion on when the cameras are turned on.

Officials say the program has safeguards in place that do not allow tampering with the video.

Officers will do use body camera video in much the same way as they do with video from squad cars.

They put the camera on the docking station and upload it to a server.

MPD says there is no way for officers to tamper with or destroy video.

Chief Harteau says the SOP on how body cameras work is a work in progress as well.

She said it is not possible for officers to turn the camera on at the start of the shirt and off at the end.

Officers have been instructed to use the cameras anytime they take action or they believe an altercation, either physical or verbal, may happen.

Once again, that’s the reason behind the pilot program: to iron out all the kinks.

Reg Chapman