Image courtesy Department of Justice

The Redwood Falls Police Department is in the early stages of getting body cams for officers to wear when out on patrol. With all the regulations and mandates, it’s a lengthy process for any department.

On Tuesday, the Redwood Falls City Council held a required hearing for the public to discuss the city’s new proposed body cam policy and procedures. As it happened, no one from the public showed up. Police Chief Jason Cotner summarized the current body cam situation for the city council.

The Redwood Falls Police Department is considering buying 12 cameras, possibly by next February or March, at a cost of $80,000 spread out over five years.

The cameras would not be assigned to specific officers, but would be used by whomever is on patrol that day. If four officers go out on patrol, having 12 cameras would ensure there were enough for the cameras to have time to recharge and download data between shifts.

There are still many policy issues to be worked out, many involving privacy, such as who will have access to the recordings. Another is how people who have been photographed by body cams but aren’t suspects can have their privacy protected.

Another issue is when body cameras would be activated. Options include automatic triggers, such as when an officer draws his or her taser. Cotner suggested the basic rule of thumb would be for officers to turn on their body cameras any time they are in a situation where the body camera would be useful as evidence in court.

The goal is for the Redwood Falls Police Department to acquire the new body cameras by next February or March.
As it happens, the drive to provide local police officers with body cameras is part of a trend in the state. Hundreds of state law enforcement officers in Minnesota will soon be outfitted with new body cameras to record everything from traffic stops to civil disturbances.

More than 600 Minnesota State Patrol troopers, nearly 200 Department of Natural Resources conservation officers, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents and other state-level law enforcement officers will soon wear the 1,100 body cameras that have been ordered. The State Patrol will begin distributing the cameras to troopers starting next month.

(The Associated Press contributed to this article.)