Conflicting Reports on Timeline of Mpls. Police Body Cameras

Updated: 10/18/2013 7:32 AM By: Josh Rosenthal

Twenty-five cameras, $25,000. That's the initial plan three Minneapolis City Council members presented Thursday to start a police body camera pilot program later this year.

Council members Betsy Hodges, Gary Schiff, and Cam Gordon support the plan and say they found funding for it. Hodges said the funding for 2013 would come from existing budget resources and contingency funds. The council members also say using the body cameras is as easy as flicking a switch.

"Very simple," explained Schiff. "It's cop proof, and it allows for everything to be maintained securely. Officers cannot change the recording or edit it in any way."

We checked and found Minneapolis has settled police misconduct cases for $8 million over the past five years. Hodges said the cameras could reduce those numbers. She cites figures from the Rialto Police Department in California. They've used the cameras for more than a year.

"It would prevent complaints from coming forward because force is used less frequently," said Hodges. "And then when there is a complaint that comes forward, we have better data to use to judge what happened."

Hodges is running for mayor, and at the Thursday press conference about police, no police attended.

"It's something that my colleagues and I have been investigating for quite some time," she said in response to a question asking why no police representatives were present and if the press conference had anything to do with the mayoral race. "Now is the time to do it, to let the public know."

The council members also point out that Chief Janeé Harteau is out of town and has been in favor of body cameras in the past.

For example, at a budget hearing in September, Harteau said, "if we do this - and I almost want to say when we do this instead of if we do this - we want to be successful."

Even still, after the press conference, a Minneapolis Police Department Spokesperson said, "the department is nowhere near testing such a major undertaking." Also, the representative said that while Harteau is out of town, she was not invited to the press conference.