The City of Minneapolis spent millions of dollars to equip its law enforcers with body cameras. It also created a policy of when its law enforcers are supposed to turn their body cameras on. That policy lacked any real consequences for officers who didn’t follow it. In an absolutely shocking turn of events, it turns out that Minneapolis law enforcers are willing to suffer the lack of consequences for not following the city’s policy:
Minneapolis police officers frequently fail to turn on their body-worn cameras, a City Council member said Monday, a day before the release of an audit detailing their use.
That was among findings of a two-month examination of the department’s body camera program, said Council Member Linea Palmisano, who reviewed the report over the weekend. It shows that most of the problems stem from a lack of accountability for officers who don’t activate their cameras when responding to calls or turn them off without explanation, she said.
“There’s some people who never have it on,” said Palmisano. “This is a very expensive program, and there isn’t oversight of this, and there isn’t governance.”
This is what happens when you put the foxes in charge of holding themselves accountable to the chickens. Body cameras have the potential to catch police officers behaving badly but that potential will remains unrealized so long as the officers wearing them get to decide when to turn them on. I feel pretty safe in saying that policy changes won’t make any difference. There is too much precedence for law enforcers disobeying policies and getting away with it.
Until the decision of when to turn on body cameras and control over any recorded video is taken away from law enforcers, those cameras will only serve to collect evidence against individuals who law enforcers want to see prosecuted.