Body Camera Program
It is no secret that the profession of law enforcement has rapidly evolved over the past 24 months, with that the Big Lake Police Department embraces this change. In July of 2015, our department purchased 3 body camera units to employ on a voluntary basis among our patrol officers. The pilot program was designed to explore how body cameras would fit into our department, and how receptive officers and the public would be to the data collected. At the end of the 6 month pilot project, the vote was in and it was unanimous. All involved in the pilot project found them to be a useful and valuable tool. The results of this evaluation period were presented to the Big Lake City Council, who unanimously endorsed an expanded program within the department.
Axon Body 2 System
A full program was initiated in the spring of 2016. The department signed a contract with Taser International for the Axon Body 2 System. All of the data collected is stored in a cloud based system maintained by Taser. The footage collected serves to provide evidence in criminal cases, document our interactions with the public, and most importantly provides a level of insurance which protects our officers from unfounded complaints and litigation.
Data Practices Statute
A 2016 Data Practices Statute outlines how body camera footage is maintained and released. Below please see the overview of the statute, but as a general rule body camera footage will be released to the subject of the video, once any criminal proceedings are closed. The Big Lake Police Department Body Camera Policy derives from a League of Minnesota Cities Policy outlining best practices. Within this policy, all uniformed officers are requested to be equipped with a body camera during their shift. This includes; Chief of Police, Lieutenant, and all Patrol Officers. The policy in general allows officer discretion in what is captured, but does require officers to activate their body cameras when:
- Escalating levels of conflict are taking place
- During use of force incidents
- To capture what may become evidence
- During traffic and pedestrian detentions
- At any other point the officers finds its use beneficial
The use of body worn cameras in the Big Lake Police Department is something we have quickly adapted to. If you have any questions about our body worn camera program, please feel free to email Chief of Police Joel Scharf.