Minnesota: Police Wear Body Cams, No One Can See Footage

From the one-way-surveillance-and-zero-accountability department:

More cities and states are getting behind the idea that outfitting their law enforcement officers with body cameras will result in better policing and more accountability. Unfortunately, many of them then follow this moment of clarity by gutting the “accountability” part of the programs.

Los Angeles law enforcement agencies will only turn over camera footage if it’s part of a criminal or civil suit. Florida legislators are pushing for additional exceptions in the state’s open records laws specifically for body camera footage and specifically at the request of the state’s police union.

Minnesota seems to be taking the same route. The state wants its law enforcement officers to wear cameras but some legislators don’t feel the public should have access to the footage. A bill supported by the state’s law enforcement aims to keep as many recordings out of the public’s hands as possible.

The bill states:

[A]udio and video data captured by a portable video recording system that is not part of an active or inactive criminal investigation must be destroyed within 90 days of the date the data were captured, unless the data subject, or any peace officer identifiable by the data, submits a written request to the law enforcement agency to retain the data for possible use in a future proceeding related to the circumstances under which the data were originally collected. Any law enforcement agency that receives a request to retain data shall retain it for a reasonable time, based upon the likelihood of its future use and the agency’s policies for retention. Peace officers who are identifiable by portable video recording system data shall have unrestricted access to the data while it is retained and must be permitted to make copies.

It seems reasonable… until you realize what it’s allowing law enforcement agencies to do. Anything retained by these agencies will only be accessible to civilians in the recording, and then only by request. Alleged misconduct that is cleared by law enforcement oversight will move affected recordings into the “destroy” pile, which means agencies can start deleting potentially damning footage almost immediately….

By Tim Cushing – Tech Dirt –

Citizens Deploy a Crowd-Funded, Direct Action Against Police

Citizens in Stockton, California have taken a new approach to activism.

Rather than sticking to the traditional form of protest in which signs are held and slogans are chanted, these citizens have taken direct action and offered a grassroots, crowd-funded incentive structure to end police brutality in their community.

They have offered a $2,500 reward to anybody who submits information leading to the arrest or termination of cops who brutalize or kill people.

They were able to let people know about the offer by printing all the details on flyers and spreading them throughout their community.

The flyer specifically names 15 cops as a start, and includes pictures of at least 10 cops who have been involved in either the brutalization or killing of Americans.

The words “Know Your Killer Cops” are printed on the flyers, along with instructions to film any police brutality and a location where the footage can be submitted.

From Liberty Crier –

Obama to provide funding for 50,000 police body cameras

President Obama on Monday will announce $263 million in funding for law enforcement agencies to purchase body-worn cameras and improve training.

The White House said the funding, which would need to be matched by state and local police, could purchase 50,000 body-worn cameras.

Obama also plans to overhaul how the federal government disperses military equipment to local police departments, the White House said Monday.

The announcement comes as the White House seeks to respond to protests across the country over a Ferguson, Mo., grand jury’s decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.

The case has raised questions about how police treat minority communities, and the Ferguson force was also criticized over the summer when it rolled out heavy equipment in response to violent summer protests over Brown’s death.

By Justin Sink – The Hill –