By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Body cameras are quickly becoming part of the uniform for several police forces across the country and in Minnesota.

But there is some concern about what should happen to all the video.

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A new bill at the state legislature is calling for the video to be kept private.

“Right now we kind of feel in the law enforcement community, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t,” Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, said.

As a police officer who is also a lawmaker, Schoen has heard both sides of the body camera debate.

“Either they want us to turn them off when we get to the door, or they want us to have them on 24 hours a day,” Schoen said.

He says he’s in favor of wearing body cameras and hitting record, but he doesn’t think all the video captured should be made public.

Schoen, and two other officers-turned-lawmakers, want to privatize the video and prevent the public from seeing their neighbors in their most vulnerable states.

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“Sometimes they are partially clothed, they’re not clothed at all or they’re intoxicated, or they’re telling us things that are now being recorded, and you’re going to see the expressions on their face, you’re going to see the inside of their homes, you’re going to know the layout, you’re going to know what they have that are their valuables,” he said.

If the bill passes, it could mean that third parties wouldn’t be able to see the body camera video unless they go through a strict legal process.

Right now, once a case is closed, the video can be made public.

Opponents of the bill worry that it takes away police accountability.

Schoen disagrees. He worries the current system may actually keep people from calling for help.

“I don’t want to, you know, victims that are going to be worried about calling us because they know they’re going to be recorded. And anybody can walk in, get access to the video,” Schoen said.

Rep. Tony Cornish, a retired peace officer, is the bill’s chief author. He and others are simply calling this a “conversation starter.”

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They want to know how people feel about the current law and possible changes.

John Lauritsen