Police Body Cam Bill Passes House of Representatives

On May 16 the Minnesota House of Representatives passed HF 430 95-33 (companion bill SF 498), a bill that regulates the usage of police body cameras warn by law enforcement and clarifies classification procedures of the film collected.  The bill provides a framework for which the police forces will utilize to classify data collected by body cameras, which will in turn provide consistency. The bill was originally introduced in the Senate by Senator Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) and Scott J. Newman (R-Hutchinson), and received bi-partisan support in both chambers.

The topic of police body cameras has become a hot-button issue over the course of the last several months, after a series of incidents in which unarmed African-American men were fatally shot by a white police officer.  Locally, the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark surged the topic of police cameras and the proper way to regulate them in to the political conversations of both Minnesotans and policy makers.

Rep. Dan Schoen (DFL – St. Paul Park) asserted his support, stating: “With the increasing demand by both the public and law enforcement agencies, tonight’s bipartisan vote showed it was time to act on this issue so communities can invest in this equipment. This bill allows all communities to openly discuss policies and guidelines as to which use is the best fit for them for both officer accountability and safety.”

Rep. Schoen offered a unique insight into the body camera debate due to the fact that he is a police officer and paramedic.  Schoen points to his experiences as reasons for his support of the bill, saying, “as a police officer I expect to be accountable to my community. Along with the other 99.99 percent of honorable officers working the street every day, I want to see the .01 percent who aren’t honorable dealt with and removed from our profession. Our officers deserve to have the protection body cameras offer them in the communities which want to utilize them.”

According to the House Research Summary, “the data [information collected via recorders/body cams] are classified as private or nonpublic data, and data that are not related to an active or inactive criminal investigation must be destroyed within 90 days of the date it was collected.” Of course it is important to note that exceptions do apply.

Now that the bill has been passed by both legislative bodies, it has to be matched up by both chambers.  To stay updated on all information pertaining to public safety and law enforcement in Minnesota, subscribe to Alpha News.