Minneapolis police chief says body cameras are already paying off

Officer wearing a body camera
Officer Ken Feucht, left, is among the first Minneapolis officers who now wears a body camera while on duty. Next to him is deputy chief Medaria Arradondo.
Brandt Williams | MPR News

Though they've only been in use for a few weeks, Minneapolis police officials say body cameras are already showing some benefits.

Police Chief Janee Harteau said officers downtown recently used the cameras to nab a robbery suspect. She said a man reported that he'd been robbed of his hat and shoes gave the officers a description of the suspect. The officers later found the suspect with the stolen clothing.

"What was great about that is, not only could you see the individual captured on video, but prosecution and charging happened rather quickly," said Harteau. "Because investigators didn't have to go out, again talk to victims, talk to witnesses. The evidence was right there captured on that body camera."

Officer Ken Feucht, one of the first to start wearing the cameras on duty, said the camera has not changed how he interacts with the public.

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He said most people don't seem fazed by the square black device, which is about the size of a deck of playing cards and is attached to his uniform in the middle of his chest just above his sternum.

Feucht said he tends to activate the camera more often than is required by the policy.

"It's good to have it running. It never hurts to have it running. In most situations, you're probably going to find officers turning it on, whether or not it's required by policy or just one of our discretionary things."

Lt. Greg Reinhardt said the department decided to go with the cameras that mount on the uniform instead of smaller devices that are worn on glasses or goggles. He said those models came with too many accessories and cables that could get in the way.

"This is simple. It can mount a couple ways on a uniform," said Reinhardt. "If you mount it center mass, you get a really good picture."

One problem with the body-mounted cameras, Feucht said, is that they can fall off if an officer has to wrestle with someone.

However, he said the camera will continue to record audio and video after it falls off.

Harteau said officers in the 4th Precinct, which covers north Minneapolis, are expected to be using the cameras by the end of the month.