Body camera advocates say giving the public access to footage of police in action will make cops more accountable, but that police video also records many citizens at their most vulnerable. Should the public be able to see that, too? It’s a question Minnesota lawmakers are struggling now to answer, reports Minnesota Public Radio. MPR News and KARE11 requested all the video recorded on one Saturday evening in March by officers in Minneapolis, Duluth, Burnsville and Farmington.
The video opens a new window into the day-to-day life of a cop, navigating language barriers at a traffic stop, executing arrest warrants, defusing family fights. It also captures victims, witnesses and people who are just distressed, illustrating the difficult choice facing lawmakers as they seek to balance privacy and transparency. In one video, a woman who lives in a group home for people with traumatic brain injuries and persistent mental health problems called police because she wasn’t getting along with the other people at the facility. There’s no reason other people need to see a video like that, said Dennis Flaherty of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association. “Most of the things we do — and when we encounter the public — it really doesn’t need to be shared with the world.”