The purpose of this general order is to provide policy for the use, management, access, retention, handling, dissemination, degaussing, storage, and retrieval of audio-visual media evidence recorded by in-car video systems.
- Recorded Media - For the purpose of this policy, recorded media defines audio-video signals recorded on media storage cards as part of the overall in-car camera video system.
- In-Car Camera (ICC) System - Refers to any system that captures audio and video signals, that is capable of installation in a vehicle, and that includes at minimum: camera, recorder, and monitor.
- Degaussing - Electronic cleansing by overwriting, erasing, and/or destruction of electronic storage media of analog and digital recording media that returns the media to its original state so it is ready for the imprinting of new images.
- Activate - Any process which causes the ICC system to transmit or store data.
- MGDPA - The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, Minnesota Statute 13. (See General Orders 235.00: Data Practices through 235.70: Civil Litigation Interviews)
The use of the ICC system provides documentation of law enforcement duties and interaction with the public. The data collected by the ICC system may be used for law enforcement purposes, for internal review and use, or for review by the public pursuant to MGDPA and department specific policies and procedures.
The Saint Paul Police Department has adopted the use of ICC to accomplish the following objectives:
- To enhance officer safety.
- To document events and statements during the course of an incident.
- To enhance the officer’s ability to document and review statements and actions for both internal reporting requirements and for courtroom preparation.
- To provide an impartial measurement for self-critique and field evaluation during recruitment and new officer training.
- To preserve visual and audio information for use in current and future investigations.
- To enhance the public trust by preserving objective factual representations of officer-citizen interactions in the form of video and audio recordings made via an in-car camera system.
- To identify and document training needs.
As defined in 440.00: Digital Evidence, all imagery, video and audio recordings, or other similar items that are taken, recorded or obtained while within the scope of the officers authority is the property of the department. Storage, destruction, copying, releasing or other dissemination will be in compliance with General Orders 235.00: Data Practices to 235.50: Uniform Evidence Retention.
Officers shall not use any method to intentionally interfere with the capability of the ICC system to record video or audio data.
When ICC is activated, the use of the AM/FM radio and/or other similar device not required as a business necessity is prohibited. Officers must be aware of other background noise and make every effort to safely minimize it.
Personnel shall not erase, alter, reuse, modify or tamper with ICC recordings. Video Management Unit personnel, or department-approved designee may erase, alter, reuse, modify, or tamper with and reissue previously used SD cards pursuant to the provisions of this policy. Department supervisors may upload and replace SD cards when required in the course of their duties.
To preserve the chain of evidence, original recordings must not be viewed on any equipment other than the equipment issued or authorized by the Chief of Police or their designee.
ICC recordings must be considered evidence. Officers must assign the appropriate classification and case number to ICC recordings as evidence. ICC recordings must be submitted to the department-approved designee to ensure that the recording is retained in accordance with department policy. (G.O. 235.50 Uniform Evidence Retention Schedule)
The ICC system will automatically activate when:
- Vehicle emergency lighting has been activated.
- A vehicle exceeds 70MPH.
- A vehicle collides with another object at a force sufficient to activate installed sensors.
- Either rear door is opened. This automatic activation is not enabled for squad cars assigned to the canine unit.
- The “rec” button is pressed on the camera or laptop screen.
The ICC System shall be configured to capture 30 seconds of video data prior to activation. It is not configured to record any audio during this period.
The ICC is activated to document an event. It may be deactivated when the following criteria are met:
- The officer reasonably believes deactivation will not result in the loss of critical documentary information. Because objective representation is critical to the department’s goals, deactivating of the ICC system should be the exception, and;
- The intention to stop the recording has been noted by the officer verbally on the ICC recording, and included in the written reports.
Officers must document the existence of ICC recordings and squad numbers in their reports and/or citations.
If the ICC was activated during any call or incident whether at the scene or perimeter, the officer must inform dispatch of their presence so they will be assigned to the incident in the computer aided dispatch system.
When the recording media (SD card) is removed from the ICC system, the individual who removed the card shall write a report. The report must state the reason for removal, squad number, and whether or not a replacement card was put into the squad car.
The recording media (SD cards) must be replaced when the recording time remaining is less than 1 hour.
Officers may review their ICC recordings or any ICC recording in which they are captured or referenced (excepting subdivision O below). The review of ICC recordings shall be allowed for any purpose relating to their employment unless the corresponding case file is “locked down” pursuant to department policy 235.20 Administrative Lockdown.
Officers involved in a critical incident as defined in General Order 246.09: Investigations – Incidents Where Serious Injury or Death Result during Police Custody or Involvement may view and/or listen to the ICC recording of the incident.
- Viewing and/or listening to the ICC recording may be allowed only after:
- The officer(s) visits with Saint Paul Police Federation representation or legal counsel, if requested; and
- The officer(s) and legal counsel meet with the investigating entity or designee regarding the process for a critical incident and the process of a voluntary statement as afforded in General Order 246.09: Investigations – Incidents Where Serious Injury or Death Result during Police Custody or Involvement.
Whenever a request for an ICC recording is made to the department by the media and the department intends to release the video, an attempt will be made to notify the subject officer with 24 hour advance notice of its release and that the video may be released in the future, for all routine requests if possible
Mandatory ICC Recording
Prior to any use of a squad car equipped with ICC, the officer must log on the system.
To the extent practical without compromising officer safety, the ICC system must be activated in preparation for, when initiating, or under the following circumstances and conditions:
- Traffic stops
- Priority responses.
- Vehicle pursuits.
- Vehicle searches.
- Physical and verbal confrontations or confrontations involving the officer’s response to resistance and aggression.
- Prisoner transports.
- Any situation or incident that the officer, through training and experience, believes should be recorded.
Officers are encouraged to narrate events using the audio recording to provide the best documentation for pretrial and courtroom presentation.
When the ICC is activated, law enforcement officers shall ensure the audio portion is also activated.
Officers may activate both audio and video recording when responding in a support capacity or, for other activities when in the officer’s judgment it would be beneficial to do so, in order to obtain additional perspectives of the incident scene.
ICC Media Access
All ICC recorded media are the property of the department and subject to the provisions of the MGDPA.
All viewing of and/or listening to any ICC recordings are on a need-to-know basis directly related to the viewing individual’s specific department assignment. No other viewing and/or listening is permitted.
Dissemination outside of the department is strictly prohibited except to the extent permitted under the MGDPA, the Peace Officer Discipline Procedures Act, as required by law, court order, or upon the written authorization of the Chief of Police or their designee.
All outside requests for ICC recordings or images shall be documented by a department-approved designee. The original request will be retained in numerical complaint number order by the department-approved designee.
To prevent damage to or alteration of the original recording media, it may not be copied, viewed, or otherwise inserted into any device not approved by the Chief of Police or their designee.
No copies or images from the ICC or recording media may be made by anyone except the Video Management Unit personnel or department forensic media staff. This includes, but is not limited to, copying or duplication with cellular phone or other media recording/transferring devices. ICC video will not be integrated or combined with BWC video. The original copy of the media will be permanently stored on a designated network server for future reference in accordance with the appropriate retention schedules. Any original copy of the media that was burned to DVD disc will be placed into the property room and held in accordance with appropriate retention schedules.
All copies made by the Video Management Unit personnel must be for lawful purposes including but not limited to data requests under the MGDPA, department purposes, criminal litigation, and civil litigation.
Handling of Evidence
ICC recordings are considered evidence.
When the ICC is used to collect data in serious injury/fatal crash investigations, the original recording must be kept at the department as part of the complete crash investigation file in the forensic services unit and not as part of the crash file at CWS. Recordings potentially subject to continuing judicial review will be maintained and controlled by the department in conjunction with the appropriate prosecutor or attorney representing the city in civil cases or other litigation.
Evidence containing data that must be retained as part of pending civil action or are collected as part of an active investigation will be maintained and controlled by the department according to the Ramsey County Evidence Retention policy.
When a recording contains evidence for a case that is being investigated by another agency, that agency will be provided a duplicate copy of the recording with the approval of the Chief of Police or their designee.
ICC recordings will be “tagged” by the ICC operating officer as soon as practical. A case number must be added to the classification when a case number exists. There should be no dashes or spaces between numbers (Example: 12107899).
General Citizen Contact
Traffic Stop (Non-Arrest)
Investigation of a Death/Admin Hold
All officers must use the same classification for an incident.
ICC recordings will be retained in accordance with the MDGPA, Ramsey County Evidence Retention Policy, or court order.
The duration of any ICC data evidence retention may be increased as needed.
Inspection and general maintenance of ICC equipment installed in department vehicles is the responsibility of the officer assigned to the vehicle.
ICC equipment must be operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines, and department training and policies.
Prior to beginning each shift, the assigned officer shall perform an inspection to ensure the ICC system is performing in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations and that the ICC is functioning properly, covering the following matters:
- Connected to the recording equipment.
- The view of all cameras must be free of obstruction.
- All camera lenses must be operational.
- Camera facing intended direction.
- Recording mechanism capturing both audio and video information.
- System plays back both audio and video tracks.
Officers must report malfunctions, damage, or theft of ICC to their immediate supervisor prior to placing the unit into service.
The supervisor shall determine if the vehicle will be placed in service without an operating ICC system.
When an incident requires the immediate retrieval of the recorded media a supervisor shall respond to the scene and ensure the appropriate supervisor, Video Management Unit personnel, or crime scene investigator removes the recorded media. The personnel handling the data shall:
- Ensure the incident in question has been tagged with case number and appropriate data retention tag.
- Download the ICC SD card to the storage server.
- Provide copies of recorded media to authorized investigative personnel.
- Ensure the appropriate notation is made in the chain of custody log regarding the manual download of the ICC SD card.
- Document their actions in a report that includes the vehicle number from which the recorded media was removed.
- Send a written notification to the Video Management Unit sergeant if they discover an SD card no longer functions or is damaged.
Supervisors shall conduct periodic reviews of officer recordings in order to:
- Assess officer performance.
- Assure proper functioning of ICC equipment.
- Determine if ICC equipment is being operated properly.
- Identify recordings that may be appropriate for training.
- Ensure officers are correctly and consistently adding case numbers and appropriate classification to video.
Supervisors shall conduct periodic reviews corresponding with an officer’s annual departmental performance review.
Supervisors shall ensure recordings which have been tagged for extended retention are tagged properly.
Revised September 25, 2017