A Minnesota State Patrol trooper wears a body-worn camera during a press conference in Golden Valley on Dec. 2, 2021. Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer
The Minnesota State Patrol is rolling out the use of body-worn cameras next week, starting with 40 troopers who will now be required to record interactions with the public.
Patrol officers join a growing number of police in Minnesota to be outfitted with body cams, which are intended to improve accountability and transparency.
Body-cam footage has been instrumental in capturing some cases of police misconduct. Jaleel Stallings was acquitted of eight charges, including, attempted murder, after body-cam footage from the Minneapolis Police Department showed SWAT officers firing non-lethal rounds on him and others without announcing themselves. The footage contradicted their claims about the incident and captured two officers beating Stallings and others.
The State Patrol faces lawsuits from journalists who say they were assaulted by troopers while they were covering protests and unrest that erupted after the murder of George Floyd last year. Troopers were not wearing body cams then.
During an afternoon press conference at a State Patrol station in Golden Valley, Col. Matt Langer, who leads the State Patrol, said the body-cam footage will help improve accountability, even during chaotic large-scale protests.
“Without a doubt, I wish that we had body-worn cameras to deploy during all of our civil unrest deployments over the past couple of years,” he said. “It helps. It gives a record of what happened. It leaves little to question about who did what, who said what, who’s at fault.”
Langer said he will eventually wear a body camera, too.
Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order that says families of people killed by state law enforcement will be able to view body-worn camera footage within five days of an incident or within five days of a viewing request.
Approved by lawmakers, the $8 million in funding will provide body-worn cameras for 645 troopers, as well as Capitol Security officers and commercial vehicle inspectors.
All troopers will be required to wear body cams unless they are crew on state aircraft, assigned to desk duty or on the governor’s executive security detail.
In 2020, troopers had more than 411,000 interactions with the public, including 325,505 traffic stops and more than 30,000 crash investigations.
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