MINNEAPOLIS - The Minneapolis Police body camera program just underwent its first audit, and it's receiving low marks.
"I would say fail," said Will Tetsell, Minneapolis Director of Internal Audit.
The review spans a period of time both before and after the July shooting of Minneapolis resident Justine Damond by an MPD officer, which spurred major changes in the police department and its body camera policy.
"There's a pretty good chance that if people were tracking the lack of videos being recorded, and following up with that, we would have had a video, squad car and body camera video that night," Tetsell said.
The city council audit committee learned about several issues with the body camera program, which have remained even after the body camera policy changed in late July.
According to the audit, there still seems to be confusion with the policy. Several video categories, including use of force recordings, are being mislabled at a higher rate than before. And though the new policy requires that cameras be activated for every dispatched call, auditors couldn't find corresponding videos for 29 percent of those calls.
"It just makes people wonder what's not being captured and it's not there," Tetsell said.
"Clearly the body camera policy is not working," said city council member Jacob Frey. "It doesn't do any good to have a body camera on your chest if it's not turned on and nearly one-third of the time, they're not being turned on."
On Monday, Mayor Betsy Hodges issued a statement praising the revised body camera policy, which has led to triple the amount of footage recorded by officers. However, the auditor's report took a closer look at the footage and found that, under the previous policy, many arrests and evidence calls were never recorded.
"The fact that arrest/evidence is doubling because of a policy change, it's a little bit concerning," Tetsell said.
Police Chief Mederia Arradondo says the department is open to working on solutions.
"There is still a lot more work to be done and we are still learning," Arradondo said on Monday.
The auditor suggested a long list of policy changes that should help clarify and strengthen the program, and he suggests one area that needs immediate attention. Calls for SWAT officers are not being recorded at all.
"Policy says everyone should (be recording)," Tetsell said. "I would say those are probably some incidents where that transparency is maybe more important."
"I would have assumed that the SWAT team would have been first in line for those (cameras)," said council member Linea Palmisano, "so that's something that I think we're going to need to figure out right away."
For the complete body camera audit click here.
To see the audit presentation slides prepared for the Minneapolis City Council click here.
The audit will now go the full city council and the public safety committee, but the auditor has already been directed to work with MPD on its recommendation and report back by the end of the year.
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