Add the Farmington Police Department to the growing list of law enforcement agencies in Minnesota who have adopted police body cameras.
Farmington is following in the footsteps of Burnsville and will likely be watched closely by Minneapolis, who just recently approved a pilot program to outfit a few officers with the video recording equipment. Unlike the Minneapolis project that has a rather extensive budget, Farmington had to make due with much less, purchasing 17 mountable cameras and a year of video storage for $13,000. Despite to bill, Sgt. Gary Rutherford expects the cameras to pay for themselves by showing judges and juries exactly what happened and what pressure situations his officers were faced with.
“The judge and jury will get to see that genuine terror that we see, as opposed to just reading our own words on paper,” he said. “It’s just such a great evidence tool.”
Farmington Police Sgt. Jim Constantineau added that the recordings will keep officers and citizens on their best behavior.
“We’re all professionals,” Constantineau said. “These are going to protect all of us — law enforcement officers and citizens — and make it more efficient for us to do our jobs.”
How They Work
As we’ve documented in the past, the body-mounted cameras clip onto an officer’s cap, collar or a set of clear glasses and record every detail of a citizen encounter. The department began exploring the idea of body cameras after deciding that dash camera footage simply couldn’t provide the necessary evidence that a moveable camera could.
“These days, society is video-driven,” Rutherford said. “This technology is small enough and affordable enough, there was no reason not to go with it now. And it’s such a great evidence collection tool.”
The cameras are expected to help sort out he said-she said affairs and protect the officers against unwarranted claims of misconduct or excessive force, but police also believe the cameras will be especially helpful in cases of domestic abuse. Oftentimes a victim will recant their statement out of fear of retribution, but the cameras will help record the initial interaction that can better portray scenes of abuse or domestic violence. With video evidence, judges and juries will hear honest testimony and see firsthand accounts of what transpired, which should help keep victims from being manipulated by their abuser.
Farmington police have been using the cameras for three weeks, and by all accounts the initial adoption has been a success.
“I can’t imagine life without one now that I have it,” said Rutherford.
Related source: Pioneer Press