Beginning this month, Edina Police officers are outfitted with body-worn cameras.

For more than a decade, the department has utilized in-squad camera systems which have been a tool for collecting evidence, documenting encounters, and providing enhanced transparency and accountability, according to a city press release. The new WatchGuard V300 body-worn cameras integrate with the existing in-squad camera systems, significantly expanding the department’s capability to capture video and sound from virtually all police interactions.

“This technology will allow our officers to have a video recording of their day-to-day work in the city and provide the transparency expected from the community,” said Police Chief Dave Nelson. “It is recognized that when someone calls 911, it is often on their worst day. We want the public to know that our policy follows the model set by the League of Minnesota Cities, emphasizing privacy and data security.”

Officers wear the cameras on the front of their uniform and will record the majority of calls for police service and self-initiated law enforcement contacts. The officer’s body-worn camera is synchronized with their in-squad system so that when activated, all cameras will automatically begin recording. Away from their squad car an officer can manually activate the body-worn camera, which will include 30 seconds of video prior to the activation. All video captured will be securely stored for a minimum of 90 days with longer retention periods for evidentiary video or when a third-party request has been made to retain video of an incident.

While many have applauded the arrival of body-worn cameras for enhanced transparency, others may rightfully be concerned about the privacy implications of officers recording video of their interactions. It is important to know that the vast majority of video captured with body-worn cameras is classified as private data on individuals. The department recognizes the sensitivity of the data collected and will maintain high standards in keeping the data safe and protecting individual privacy within the limitations of state law, according to the release.

In addition, officers will have limited discretion to discontinue recording when a privacy concern obviously outweighs the evidentiary value of the video collected.

The complete body-worn camera policy along with frequently asked questions about the program are available on the department’s web site: edinamn.gov/1652/body-worn-cameras.

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