Lawmakers push for statewide body camera policies after 5 INVESTIGATIONS found police were turning off cameras
DFL leaders and Senate Republicans have yet to agree on a public safety bill. Earlier this month, both sides agreed it would be the most difficult bill to come to agreement on during the June special session.
“I actually didn’t know you could turn off body cameras at any time,” said Representative Carlos Mariani, the DFL lawmaker who chairs the House public safety committee. “When I saw this story that morning, it was the very first thought I had, which was, ‘Why is this stopping?'”
Mariani is one of the DFL leaders who called for statewide police reforms last year.
“Your story, you know, was just a straightforward account of how we need consistent policies across the state,” he said.
Following the story of 5 INVESTIGATES, lawmakers researched and drafted body camera policies in the DFL’s proposed public safety omnibus bill. The measure, carried by Rep. Cedrick Frazier of New Hope, would require cameras to be on and remain on during an incident.
A spokesperson for Senate Republicans said the language had yet to be discussed during negotiations.
“It makes sense that our cameras and audio are on so that we can make sure we’re documenting what’s going on,” said Frazier, deputy chairman of the House public safety committee.
In addition to limits on officer discretion, the proposal includes funding for police departments and sheriff’s offices to equip officers with body cameras. Frazier told law enforcement he spoke about supportive policy changes.
“All of these are aimed at uplifting a profession and building the confidence we need in our police officers, with members of our community and our fellow Minnesota people,” he said.
While most negotiations have so far taken place behind closed doors, the two DFLs are confident the leaders of both chambers will reach a deal this week.
A spokesperson for Senate Republicans said leaders believe the talks have progressed well over the weekend and also believe they will reach a deal soon.
However, they said the DFL leadership had not presented them with the provisions of the “always on” body camera policy as part of final legislation yet.