City Council Member Says Minneapolis Police Officers Are Not Using Body Cameras Often Enough

A Minneapolis City Council member says there are problems with how police officers are using body cameras.

Linea Palmisano, who represents Ward 13, said a report by the city internal auditor found that some officers don’t upload body-camera videos when they’re supposed to, and some officers don’t turn the cameras on at all during their shifts.

Her remarks came as the city’s audit committee, which she chairs, prepared to release the report overviewing Minneapolis officers’ use of body cameras.

“We rolled out this program last year and it’s surprising to me that it’s been a full year implemented for many officers and yet there’s still such little compliance with policy,” Palmisano said Monday.

However, Minneapolis police officials say body camera use has increased dramatically since the department enacted changes to the camera policy in July.

For example, in the month leading up to the fatal police shooting of Justine Ruszczyk, officers recorded about 2,500 hours of video, according to department data. Neither of the officers involved in the shooting of Ruszczyk, who’s also known as Justine Damond, activated his camera before the incident.

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the number of hours increased by more than 250 percent in the month after officers were required to activate cameras for every call. He said he thinks officers probably weren’t turning on their cameras as often as they should because they haven’t gotten used to using the equipment yet.

“Like everything else, whether it was Tasers, whether it was the mobile digital cameras in squad cars — just as it becomes more natural for them as a part of their equipment, I think we’ll continue to see better usage of it,” Arradondo said.

Arradondo told reporters he hasn’t read the report on camera use, but he welcomes any recommendations in it.

Palmisano said it’s apparent to her that under-use of cameras isn’t the result of limitations of the cameras. She said the city auditor found that even after a full shift, the cameras weren’t at risk of running out of power.

“We don’t have a battery problem. … They might be concerned about that,” said Palmisano. “But in actuality, there isn’t a technology problem.”