Saint Paul Police Department releases draft body camera policy

After months of research, public meetings and studying survey results, the Saint Paul Police Department has crafted a draft policy that governs the use of body worn cameras.

The draft policy has been posted on the department’s website (PDF icon BWC 10252016.pdf), where the public is invited to read it. It will also be the focus of a public comment hearing before the Saint Paul City Council at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2.

The department began working on the policy in March 2015. To ensure that the policy works for officers, the public and the department, community meetings were held in each of the three department districts.

In addition, department representatives held more than 30 meetings with representatives from organizations who expressed an interest in helping to shape the policy, and more than 1,400 people completed an online survey about when cameras should be worn, who should wear them, how data should be stored and retained, and when data should be made available to the public and members of the police department.

The goal of the research was to carefully craft a policy that helps increase transparency and accountability and is based on best practices in the ever-evolving world of law enforcement.

Once the public has had a chance to review and comment on the draft policy, the department will use it to guide and manage the use of body worn cameras, storage, data retention and dissemination during its pilot program, which begins in the Western District on Wednesday, Nov. 9.  

The pilot program is anticipated to run for 60 days. During this time different camera systems will be tested and the department will work to become familiar with the backend technology where the data is stored. In addition, the department will evaluate the policy and review public comments to ensure a balance is struck among all who have who have an interest in the policy.  

The draft policy is available at Questions, comments and concerns about the draft policy can be sent to or mailed to SPPD BWC Program at 367 Grove St., St. Paul, MN 55102.