Acting MPD chief: Body cameras must be on when dispatched to any call

- Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and acting police chief Medaria Arradondo announced changes Wednesday to the Minneapolis Police Department’s body camera policy in the wake of the fatal shooting of Justine Damond.

There was no footage of the July 15 shooting of Justine Damond because neither officer had activated their body cameras, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the lack of body camera footage was a source of frustration and confusion. Many called for changes to the body camera policy to ensure there is footage of future incidents.

On Wednesday, Arradondo said body cameras must now be on whenever officers are dispatched to any call or any self-initiated activity. 

“What good is a camera if it is not being used when it is needed the most?” Arrandondo said. 

According to the new policy, supervisors will be trained to conduct audits of officers' body cameras to determine if they are using them properly. If officers are not adhering to the policy will face disciplinary action. That discipline could range be from suspensions to terminations.

“We want our body cameras to accurately depict an event, no matter what the circumstances are,” Arradondo said.

The president of the Minneapolis police union, Lt. Bob Kroll, released a statement speaking out against the change, calling it a "knee-jerk reaction."

"The Federation worked collectively with the administration for a long period of time to develop our existing policy," said Kroll in a statement. "The modifications of the policy should undergo the same process and not be rushed by political influence."

MPD fully implemented their body camera program eight months ago, but Arrando said new technology takes time to get used to. Arrandondo said some officers have been turning their body cameras on more than others. 

Changes to the department's policy were reportedly in the works before Damond's shooting death. 

 “We need to build and regain our community’s trust," Arradondo said. "That is my charge and I’ve expressed that to all of our officers. Body worn cameras is a tool. It’s not everything, it’s only a tool." 

The new rules will officially take effect on Saturday. Arradondo added this will not be the last change they make to the policy. 

Statement from President of Minneapolis police union Lt. Bob Kroll:

“The rapid changes to the body camera policy initiated at the direction of Mayor Hodges are a knee-jerk reaction and politically motivated.

"The Federation worked collectively with the administration for a long period of time to develop our existing policy. The modifications of the policy should undergo the same process and not be rushed by political influence.

"The death of Justine Damon was a terrible tragedy, however the officers were in compliance with existing body camera policy usage at the time.

"Changes need to be carefully examined and made collectively by the administration and the federation.

"The upcoming changes will result in a much larger amount of data stored which is meaningless while officers are in route to a call.  Officers tactics discussed with one another while responding to a call should not be publicly disseminated.  Only the interactions taken at the call should be recorded.  The policy should change activation to arrival rather than upon dispatch.

"Discipline for noncompliance is vague and ambiguous.

"We need to leave politics out of policing."

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