ST. PAUL, Minn. - Some St. Paul Police officers are now equipped with body cameras.
Authorities made the announcement, saying after a two-year process, officers began wearing body cameras on Tuesday.
The department asked for the community to weigh in on what they'd want from a body camera program and held numerous meetings to discuss policies and best practices. They took information from those meetings to launch a two-month pilot program, where officers tested the cameras and gave feedback.
When the pilot program ended in January of this year, the department selected a vendor and purchased more than 550 cameras.
They say currently, there are about 30 officers wearing cameras.
"Our philosophy has been for the past 2 years, when in doubt record, when in doubt, protect, so when in doubt record means try to get that camera up and running as soon as possible," said Senior Commander Axel Henry, who oversaw the pilot program.
Training continues in "incremental stages" until all officers are trained in the use of the cameras and the importance, for those who may not be issued a camera.
The program, which costs $750,000 a year, will be fully implemented by the end of the year. At that time, about 450 officers will wear body cameras as part of their day-to-day duties.
Officers are required to activate their cameras when they are dispatched to or investigating any call or incident; assisting another officer; participating in vehicle stops, vehicle pursuits or investigative stops of individuals; initiating arrests; frisking and searching individuals; encountering or responding to resistance or aggression; involved in any situation that becomes adversarial; transporting people in custody; and conducting interviews in the field.
According to the St. Paul Police Department, the goals of the body camera program are:
• promoting trust, transparency and accountability
• enhancing officer and public safety
• collecting evidence for use in criminal investigations and prosecutions
• enhancing officers’ ability to document their actions and the actions of others
• deterring criminal activity
• providing information that can be used for officer training