MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis police officers are using their body cameras more than they did before the department changed its policy following the July shooting death of an Australian woman, the city's police chief said Monday, but one City Council member says an internal audit shows use of the technology is inconsistent and some officers never turn them on.
Chief Medaria Arradondo changed the policy to require his officers to turn on their body cameras when responding to any call. The change came after an officer fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond. The bride-to-be had called to report a possible sexual assault behind her home, and the responding officers did not turn on their body cameras before the shooting. The department's previous policy gave officers some discretion.
Numbers released by the department Monday show that from July 29 to Aug. 27, officers recorded 55,729 videos with their body cameras. That's up 133 percent from the 23,876 videos recorded from June 15 to July 14. The hours of video recorded jumped nearly 260 percent, from 2,521 in June and July to more than 9,000 hours recorded in the July to August period.
Still, one City Council member who viewed an internal audit on the body camera program says the findings in the report are "damning." The audit is set to be released Tuesday, and Arradondo said he hasn't seen it yet.
"There's some people who never have it on," City Council Member Linea Palmisano told the Star Tribune. "This is a very expensive program and there isn't oversight of this, and there isn't governance."
Palmisano told the newspaper that it shows there's no clear chain of command for discipline for officers who don't turn on their cameras. Palmisano told The Associated Press on Monday that while officers are now required to turn on their body cameras when they are dispatched, some are not keeping them on.
And while the figures released by the police chief show some improvement, the council member said it's not enough.
Arradondo said he welcomes any recommendations from the audit.
"There's still a lot of work to be done, and we are still learning," he said. He added that much like the implementation of squad car cameras or stun guns, it takes time for new technology to become widely accepted.