Crime, Law and Justice

Minneapolis police change policy on officer review of body camera footage

Minneapolis Police Departments body cameras.
Body cameras used by Minneapolis police officers are seen while charging at the 1st Precinct in 2017.
Maria Alejandra Cardona | MPR News 2017

Minneapolis police officers will no longer be able to review body camera footage before writing police reports in incidents involving the use of force.

The new policy, announced Sunday by Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and Mayor Jacob Frey, requires officers to submit their initial reports without looking at body camera video in so-called "critical incidents," including the use of force.

Previously, officers could use body camera footage to assist them as they wrote their reports. Any civilians involved in the incident weren’t allowed to see body camera footage before making statements.

Under the old policy, one of the stated purposes of police body cameras was to “assist officers with recalling facts or other details captured by the equipment that will help them accurately articulate a chain of events when writing reports.” That’s now changed to a new goal: to “assist officers by providing a record independent from their perceptions and recollections.”

Another change calls for officers involved in an incident with use of force to file their reports “as soon as practical.” Officers are also denied the ability to speak to a union representative about incidents while still on the scene. They retain their right to speak to legal counsel, and to talk to union representatives once back at headquarters.

“The new standards align expectations for officers involved in critical incidents with the rules for civilian subjects, who are not allowed to watch body camera footage for an incident in which they may be a potential suspect in Minneapolis and in most police departments in the country,” said Arradondo in a statement. “The policies also restrict consultation with certain representatives immediately following a critical incident and clarify time requirements for reporting.”

The Minneapolis Police Department is under increasing scrutiny in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. Members of the Minneapolis City Council want to dismantle the police department in favor of a new agency, while leaders of the Minneapolis Police Federation union say officers aren’t being supported by political leaders.

Frey and Arradondo called Sunday’s announcement the “first of what will be a series of new public safety policy reforms.”

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