MINNEAPOLIS - The death of Justine Damond at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer has elected officials asking questions about the city's body camera policy.
City Councilman Andrew Johnson is calling for an audit of the department's policy in the wake of the fatal shooting.
"And actually overlap it with the dispatch data to see if our compliance is what the public and what policy-makers expect,” he said.
The officers did not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting, according to state investigators.
"It's absolutely possible to get to always on or nearly always on body cameras,” he argued.
Johnson, who has an IT background, told KARE 11 there's technology available that as soon as an officer removes his or her weapon or even opens the squad door, the camera activates.
And he believes the cost of the new technology and storage capability should not be a deterrent.
“That’s nonsense,” he said.
Andrea Brown is the chairperson of the Police Conduct Oversight Commission.
She said one of its key recommendations two years ago was to require officers to activate the cameras as soon as they were dispatched to the scene. But Minneapolis Police did not adopt that recommendation
She doesn’t remember specifically why the city didn’t adopt it, but speculated it had something to do with the cost. The Minneapolis Police Department did not provide an explanation as to why it did not adopt that recommendation. The union that represents Minneapolis Police officers declined to comment.
"It's a tragedy that this has to become a topic because a life was lost,” she said.
She and her fellow commissioners plan to review the city’s body camera policy next month at their monthly meeting. And the city council’s public safety committee plans to bring up the issue this week, as well.
But use of force expert Professor Philip Stinson with Bowling Green State University believes whatever improvements are made, a body camera needs to be on before the incident becomes critical.
"What's really important in these shootings is not the shooting itself but what led up to it,” Stinson said. “I don't think it's an easy answer but it is unfortunate the officers had body cameras but they were not turned on during this incident."
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