The use of body-worn cameras (BWCs) in law enforcement is relatively new. The primary purpose of using BWCs is to capture evidence arising from police-citizen encounters. While this technology allows for the collection of valuable information, it opens up many questions about how to balance public demands for accountability and transparency with the privacy concerns of those being recorded. In deciding what to record, this policy also reflects a balance between the desire to establish exacting and detailed requirements and the reality that officers must attend to their primary duties and the safety of all concerned, often in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving.
The statute requires public input in three different places in the process:
Agencies must provide an opportunity for public comment before purchasing or implementing a BWC program - minimally the agency must receive comments by mail, form and email, but a public forum can be held as well.
The Council with budget oversight must provide opportunity for public comment at one of its regular meetings, and
Maplewood City Council will review BWC policy draft during a workshop held at 6:00pm at Maplewood City Hall. In the hopes of transparency and meaningful discussion, Chief Schnell has invited three distinguished guests to address the Council on this topic. We hope to be joined by Matt Ehling from the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information, Yusef Mgeni from the St. Paul NAACP, and Ben Feist from the MN Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Immediately following the workshop, will be your opportunity to address the Council with your thoughts on Maplewood's implementation of a Body Worn Camera Program.
Please take the time to read the policy prior to the September 26th meeting and keep in mind that the document is